Prior to this match, Brisbane Heat had the lowest run rate between overs 16-20 in Big Bash League (BBL) 10. On the other hand, Sydney Thunder had the joint-best economy rate during the same phase of the innings. So, when the Heat required 48 runs from the last five overs, the Thunder would have fancied their chances.
The Heat, though, had other ideas. With momentum on their side, they decided to take the Power Surge at the start of the 16th over and this move worked out perfectly. With fielding restrictions in place, the following two overs went for 27 runs which more or less sealed the game for the team from Brisbane.
While Sam Heazlett starred for the Heat with an unbeaten 74 from 49 deliveries, Jimmy Peirson played a brilliant supporting role. Peirson, who had put in a Player of the Match performance in the Eliminator just a couple of days ago, scored 43 not out from only 24 balls. The duo put on 92 unbeaten runs for the fourth wicket as the Heat got home with seven wickets in hand and five deliveries to spare at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.
STOP-START INNINGS FOR THUNDER
Earlier, after putting the Thunder into bat, the Heat were a bit unfortunate to not strike early. The umpiring in the ongoing season of the BBL has come under criticism and, in the first over of this game, there was another poor decision. Xavier Bartlett bowled a superb first over and was unlucky to have not taken a wicket after he struck Usman Khawaja on his pads. Replays showed that the ball had pitched in line and would have hit the stumps. Surely, the organisers will use the Decision Review System next season.
The Heat then had opportunities to dismiss both openers, but Mark Steketee didn't hold on to the catches that came his way. While the chance off his own bowling was a difficult one, he should have done better when the in-form Alex Hales played a lofted shot in the following over. Steketee didn't time his jump correctly which proved to be costly.
The Heat finally got rewarded for the great work they had done as a bowling unit early on, with Steketee making amends and getting the wicket of Hales off the final delivery of the Powerplay.
In the first six overs, the Thunder had managed only 33 runs and were in urgent need of a move on. It was then that Khawaja and Callum Ferguson decided to take the attack to the Heat bowling and there was a change in momentum, with 27 runs coming off the next two overs.
But just then, the Thunder were pulled back again. Marnus Labuschagne, who is having a fantastic tournament with the ball, took the wicket of Khawaja. The left-handed batsman, who was looking to bat aggressively, came down the track only to get stumped. Labuschagne now has taken 10 wickets in just five matches in BBL 10.
No team has dropped more catches than the Heat this season and they let a few opportunities slip in this innings as well. Morne Morkel, once again, was brought on as an X-Factor substitute for Bartlett. The move worked right away as the set Ferguson was caught on the deep square-leg boundary. Things could have gotten even better for the Heat, but Lewis Gregory dropped Sam Billings just four deliveries later.
Billings then upped the ante and gave the Thunder innings some momentum which was the need of the hour. But before he could make a big score, he was dismissed by the experienced Ben Laughlin for 34.
Mitchell Swepson has been impressive in recent matches and he bowled well once again here. Just when the Thunder were looking to go big, in the 16th over, the Heat leg-spinner dismissed both Daniel Sams and Alex Ross within three deliveries. With four overs still left in the innings, the Thunder had lost more than half their side.
It was all up to Ben Cutting to provide the Thunder with a strong finish and he managed to do so, scoring an unbeaten 34 from just 18 deliveries against his former team. The last four overs of the innings went for 48 runs. While the innings ended well, the team from Sydney would have been disappointed with their total of 158/8.
HEAT STUMBLE BEFORE HEAZLETT-PEIRSON HEROICS
In reply, there was early trouble for the Heat. They lost both openers, Joe Denly and Chris Lynn, within the first three overs with Sams and Brendan Doggett getting their wickets respectively.
While Labuschagne and Heazlett steadied the Heat innings thereafter, the required run-rate climbed up to above 10. Heazlett, especially, wasn’t able to get the big shots away at that time. The Thunder bowling, on the other hand, was excellent until then.
With Labuschagne and Heazlett in the middle, there was more than one occasion when the running between the wickets was not up to scratch. The former was eventually run-out when attempting a risky second run. It was a close call and the third umpire decided to give the decision in favour of the fielding team.
Labuschagne was the set batsman at the time, having scored 32 and it seemed like the game was slipping away from the Heat. But the momentum changed in the very next over. Heazlett, who hadn't scored a boundary in his first 26 deliveries, changed gears and hit two sixes off Tanveer Sangha's final over. The over went for 18 runs, the most expensive one of the match. Sangha, in fact, had bowled very economically until then.
Heazlett then brought up his first fifty of the season and, with Peirson also batting splendidly, the Heat cruised to victory. It was a tale of two halves in the Heat innings – in the first 10 overs, they managed just 56 runs before scoring 106 off the next 9.1. They were aided by some poor bowling by the Thunder, who bowled a host of full tosses during those final 55 deliveries.
The Heat will now face Perth Scorchers in the Challenger at the same venue on Thursday (4 February 2021).