Stars drop in-form Rauf for BBL derby

Shayne Hope
Melbourne Stars quick Haris Rauf will sit out this weekend's BBL derby with the Renegades

Melbourne Stars have dropped Haris Rauf for Saturday night's Big Bash League derby despite urges from Dale Steyn to let his red-hot teammate ride a wave of momentum.

The Pakistani quick has taken the competition by storm this summer, claiming 10 wickets in three matches after receiving a last-minute call-up from grade cricket in Hobart.

But Rauf, who has also courted controversy with a throat-slitting gesture forming part of his wicket celebration, has been squeezed out of the 13-man squad to face the winless Melbourne Renegades at the MCG.

He has made way for returning Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who will take up one of two available import slots alongside South Africa pace legend Steyn.

Hilton Cartwright is back from injury and has replaced Jono Merle.

"It's up to Huss (coach David Hussey) to figure out what kind of combination he wants to go with, but when the man's bowling the way that he's bowling and he's in red-hot form, you kind of want to leave him with the ball in hand," Steyn said.

"For batters scoring hundreds, you don't want to drop them.

"I don't know, it's up to Huss and how he wants to go about it, but when someone's bowling well or doing well it's nice to see their name continuously in that XI."

Steyn was full of praise for Rauf, who could be a T20 World Cup opponent in Australia later this year if both players are called up by their respective nations.

The 26-year-old has taken BBL bowling figures of 2-20, 5-27 and 3-24, moving into third spot on the competition's leading wicket takers list despite playing just three of the Stars' five matches to date.

His wickets have come at a paltry average of 7.1 and he boasts a frugal economy rate of 5.91 runs per over.

"He ticks all the boxes," Steyn said.

"He bowls fast, he bowls rapid, he bowls straight, he's got good skill, swings the ball when it's new, reverses it when it's a bit old and he's got a good change of pace.

"Then he came out of nowhere, which is also good, because people seem to have to take a little bit of a back-step and wait to kind of assess him before you can play him.

"He's stepped up to this (BBL) stage very well, I think he's been fantastic."

Rauf caused a stir on social media with the throat-slitting gesture during Thursday night's win over Sydney Thunder.

"I was down at fine leg, I was more worried about trying to stop the ball and contribute to the team that way," Steyn said.

"Then it was so hot, I was too lazy to run up and give high-fives when guys got wickets, so I just stood down on the boundary and had a drink.

"But yeah, young man, can get excited at times."

Steyn, 36, will play the final match of his short stint with the Stars on Saturday night before returning home to South Africa to prepare for a white-ball series against England.