Brisbane Heat dictated terms for 35 overs against Perth Scorchers in Match No. 54 of the Big Bash League 2020/21 at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday (January 26), before Mitchell Marsh almost took the game away from them. The Scorchers needed 81 off the final five overs and Marsh (26-ball 54*) kept them alive till the very end. Heat somehow managed to survive a scare and won the game by six runs to confirm their place in the finals. Despite the defeat, Perth are guaranteed to finish as one of the top two teams.
Asked to bat, Chris Lynn (25-ball 51) got Brisbane off to a superb start and played a massive role in helping them claim the Bash Boost point. Marnus Labuschagne (38-ball 46) and Lewis Gregory (23-ball 36) too made major contributions as the Heat managed to post a total of 181/7 in their 20 overs. In reply, Jason Roy (32-ball 41) and Liam Livingstone (22-ball 32) got off to a flying start but Mitchell Swepson (2/20) and Labuschagne (3/35) wreaked havoc in the middle-overs and put the Heat in commanding position. That's when Marsh capitalised on some mediocre bowling and almost pulled off a heist.
THE BATTING UNIT STEPS UP
Jason Behrendorff was right on the money from the word go and had Max Bryant (3) caught behind in the second over. Jhye Richardson, the leading wicker-taker of the tournament, however was a bit wayward with the new ball and that allowed Brisbane to get off to a flying start. The right-arm paceman was slammed for 26 runs in his first two overs, with Lynn smoking him for a six and a four to get the ball rolling.
The dashing opener looked in solid touch and was willing to take on every bowler. He smashed Richardson for a six over sweeper cover and then pulled Behrendorff over deep square leg to put the Perth bowlers under pressure. The Scorchers skipper Ashton Turner tried to restrict him by introducing his wrist-spinners but Lynn was having none of it. The right-hander blasted Fawad Ahmed and Livingstone for 38 runs in the next three overs and brought up his fifty off just 24 deliveries.
The ploy however finally paid off in the eighth over when Lynn was caught at deep square-leg off Livingstone, but by then the damage was already done. The Scorchers then managed to slow things down as Joe Denly and Labuschagne failed to score at a rapid pace. Heat were still in a solid position but lost the plot for a while after the end of 10 overs. Denly (11) and Joe Burns (2) perished in the space of two overs and it was up to Labuschagne and Gregory to propel them to a competitive total. The two kept the scoreboard moving with ones and twos, setting themselves up for the last five-six overs.
Labuschagne took ample time to settle in before opening up his shoulders against Behrendroff in his final over. The right-hander slammed Behrendorff for a four and six before Gregory finished the over with yet another maximum. Behrendorff, who had figures of 2/11 in three overs, was slammed for 19 in his final over. The tide once again turned in Heat's favour and both Labuschagne and Gregory started batting more freely. Fawad Ahmed (0/52) had a horrible day and the Heat raced to 149/4 at the end of 16 overs.
That's when the Heat took the Power Surge (overs 17-18) but could only manage 11 runs in those two overs. It was Andrew Tye (2/23) who broke the 56-run stand when he knocked over Gregory. Labuschagne too couldn't carry on but Jimmy Peirson (9-ball 16*) ensured Brisbane got a decent finish.
MARSH ALMOST DOES THE UNTHINKABLE
It was always going to be a stiff chase but Livingstone got Perth off to a flying start. The right-hander from England announced his arrival by lofting Jack Wildermuth down the ground for a boundary and then whacked Mark Steketee for two sixes through the leg side. There were a couple of tough chances put down in the third over, as both Roy and Livingstone were dropped off consecutive deliveries. Roy too got into the act by slamming Steketee for two fours but it was Livingstone who dictated terms in the powerplay.
The opening duo scored at least one boundary in every over before Ben Laughlin took charge and troubled them with his variations. Livingstone tried to make up for it by going after Swepson but ended up getting knocked over for a 22-ball 32. The legspinner along with Laughlin managed to slow things down and helped Brisbane claim the much-needed Bash Boost point, with Perth failing to score the required 97 runs in the first 10 overs. Colin Munro (7 off 14) struggled to get going and was dismissed by Labuschagne.
Perth lost all the momentum they gained in the first five overs as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Roy (32-ball 41) was caught at deep off Swepson before Labuschagne dismissed Josh Inglis (12) and Turner (0) in the same over to almost seal the game for Brisbane. The two legspinners were impeccable with their line and length and took the game away from the Scorchers. The game was almost done and dusted but Labuschagne was asked to bowl in the Power Surge (overs 16-17) for some reason and Marsh hammered him for 18 runs. The legspinner finished with figures of 3/35, while Swepson took 2/20. Marsh helped Perth accumulate 30 runs from those two overs and kept fighting the lone battle.
It felt like the game was over at one stage but Marsh refused to give up. The right-hander even went after Laughlin, hitting him for two fours and a six to bring the equation down to 34 off 12. Marsh was dropped in the penultimate over as the pressure started to build on Brisbane. Marsh smacked Steketee for a six before Richardson got a crucial boundary to end the 19th over. With 17 needed off 6, Laughlin started well but was smashed for a boundary off the third delivery. The Scorchers needed seven runs off the final ball but Marsh failed to hit a low full toss out of the park and Brisbane somehow managed to survive an embarrassing defeat.