Things are coming back on track for Brisbane Heat. They defeated an in-form Sydney Sixers convincingly to lift themselves from the bottom two positions in the points table. Though, they are back at the seventh spot after Perth Scorchers victory over Melbourne Renegades, they are more confident than they have ever been in the ongoing season. To brighten things further, Chris Lynn is fit again to play. After an inopportune hamstring injury minutes before the first ball of the game against Adelaide Strikers, Lynn was supposed to be out for six games. Working on his fitness vigorously, Lynn is returning two matches earlier and will lead the Heat against Sydney Thunder.
Lynn’s availability will help to take the Thunder head on. Facing them is as tough an assignment as turning up against the Sixers. Thunder are currently second on the table, having played one match less than toppers, Sixers. The Thunder are on a five-match wining run and tick every aspect of a successful T20 side at present.
The Thunder are the most successful batting side in the league right now. Alex Hales’ destructive form has made them the fastest scoring team. In addition, they have the best batting average as well, as a consequence of the solidity provided by the skipper Callum Ferguson at number 3. Sam Billings is a great inclusion their side and Oliver Davies’ brilliance is keeping Alex Ross on the bench. Then comes the allrounders, Ben Cutting and Daniel Sams.
The Heat have already fallen to the depth in Thunder’s batting line-up once when Sams clobbered them for a 25-ball 65, pulling off a heist when the two sides met in Canberra around 20 days ago.
Having said that, Thunder ain’t behind with the ball as well. They are in the second half of the table in terms of economy-rate but have the best bowling strike-rate - 14.6 balls per wicket.
While the Heat have been excellent with the ball - restricting opponents to 150 or less thrice in last four games - their batting, especially in middle-order has been abysmal and can be put to tested by the Thunder’s in-form bowling line-up.
Number 3, 4 and 5 are driving force in T20 batting line-ups and Heat have fallen consistently on that front. Even in their victory against the Sixers where they chased down 165, they lost the way in the middle before a quickfire 50-run stand between their allrounders, Lewis Gregory and Jack Wildermuth. They would not want to leave it too late against the Thunder. Lynn’s inclusion - most likely to bat at three - may help in that.
Trying to create momentum for themselves, the Heat are unlikely to change the winnings combination, except Lynn walking in the XI. Sam Heazlett batted as the X-factor in the last game and one amongst him or Joe Burns will have to make way for Lynn. Burns’ batting form remains a point of discussion for the Heat. The right-hander has struggled to buy a run this season. Dropped from the Australian Test squad, he did not find any respite in Heat’s color as well, getting out for 1 against the Sixers.
Max Bryant, Joe Burns/Sam Heazlett, Chris Lynn (c), Joe Denly, James Peirson (wk), Lewis Gregory, James Bazley, Jack Wildermuth, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
The Thunder did not use their full quota of three overseas players in their last game. Given Nathan McAndrew’s wicket-taking form, they will not fret much on Adam Milne’s ankle at the moment.
Alex Hales, Usman Khawja, Callum Ferguson (C), Sam Billings (wk), Oliver Davies, Ben Cutting, Daniel Sams, Chris Green, Nathan McAndrew, Chris Tremain, Tanveer Sangha