The opening week of the Big Bash League 2020-21 season was packed with intense drama and quality action that kept fans contemplating for some more.

Defending champions Sydney Sixers kickstarted their title defence on a sour note while last year’s runners-up Melbourne Stars won their opening set of fixtures quite comprehensively.

With a host of high-octane fixtures in the pipeline, we signal out the five players who are tipped to shine in the second week of Australia’s T20 extravaganza.

Player: Marnus Labuschagne, Brisbane Heat

Match: Sydney Thunder vs Brisbane Heat

Though Marnus Labuschagne is yet to explore his immense potential, his glimpses of brilliance in the last term and the intra-squad warm-up match during Australia’s limited-overs tour of England propelled Brisbane Heat re-sign the 26-year-old for the Big Bash League 2020-21 season.

A confident hitter of the ball, Labuschagne is now in his fifth season with the Heat. While he has only played 10 matches in BBL so far, with 97 runs to his name, the Test superstar has earned the backing of head coach Darren Lehmann to attain success in the T20 format.

Labuschagne begins his 2020-21 campaign against Sydney Thunder on Monday, and is primed to register a commanding score in the middle order.

Player: Colin Ingram, Hobart Hurricanes 

Match: Adelaide Strikers vs Hobart Hurricanes

Hobart Hurricanes made a prolific start to the Big Bash League 2020-21 season, thanks to Colin Ingram’s 42-ball 55 who is eager to continue the form against his former employers Adelaide Strikers. 

The South African middle-order batsman, who was drafted in as a replacement for England’s Dawid Malan, last featured in the competition back in 2018 where he hit 333 runs in 13 matches for Adelaide Strikers.

Ingram has racked up 665 runs in 26 matches in his entire Big Bash League career, at a strike rate of 138.25 and will look to add on to the count on Monday. 

Player: Marcus Stoinis, Melbourne Stars

Match: Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Stars

Marcus Stoinis’ impact as a T20 superstar is widely known, with his 2020 Indian T20 League campaign with Delhi a clear indicator of his match-winning capability. The all-rounder, who finished as the Man of the Series in the 2019-20 season as well the leading run-getter with 705 runs, has a record of 1763 runs and 34 wickets from 62 matches and is favoured to be among the leading performers for week two.

After being dismissed for a duck in the opening fixture, Stoinis bounced back with a match-winning knock of 61 against Sydney Thunder and will look to extend his momentum against a struggling Perth Scorchers side, who were humbled by Melbourne Renegades in the previous fixture.

Player: Aaron Finch, Melbourne Renegades

Match: Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Renegades

Fresh from a confident campaign with the national team in limited-overs cricket, Aaron Finch has made a positive return to the Big Bash League with a 28-ball 35 against Perth Scorchers.

The Australian skipper, who had scored 363 runs last term, is the second-highest run-getter in the history of the Big Bash League with 2275 runs. Given his strike rate of 136.22, onlookers can safely say that the 34-year-old Victorian will prolong his optimistic start when he returns to the pitch on Sunday, against Sydney Sixers.

Player: Nathan Coulter-Nile, Melbourne Stars

Match: Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Stars

The Big Bash League has been a perfect competition to explore the tenacity of Australia’s homegrown pacers, and, amongst the many matchwinners to represent Melbourne Stars in the T20 extravaganza, Nathan Coulter-Nile has made a name for himself. The all-rounder, in his second season with Melbourne Stars, made a blistering start to the latest campaign as he bagged a four-wicket haul against Brisbane Heat.

The 33-year-old has 60 wickets in his Big Bash League career and is all set to cross swords with his previous team Perth Scorchers. He is tipped to maintain the Stars’ quality start to the 2020-21 edition.

Feature Image courtesy: AFP/ David Gray