It was a perfect start for Melbourne Stars as they cruised to a comfortable six-wicket victory over Brisbane Heat in Match 2 of the Big Bash League 2020-21 at Manuka Oval, Canberra. Stars not just won the match, but they gained an extra point for being ahead of their opponents at the end of 10 overs, taking their tally to four points.
After restricting Brisbane to just 125, Melbourne despite losing three wickets early went on to register an easy win, thanks to a magnificent 75-run partnership between Glenn Maxwell (46) and Hilton Cartwright (46*).
Brisbane Heat never got things going right from the beginning and scored just 19 runs from the Powerplay (four overs), but importantly, did not lose a single wicket. The Stars executed their lines and lengths to perfection and that bore results as Brisbane kept losing at regular intervals. Once Clint Hinchliffe got the better of Sam Heazlett, it was Nathan Coulter-Nile who stole the show with four wickets and two brilliant run-outs off his own bowling to restrict Heat to a below par total.
Before this match, the team chasing had won just two T20s out of seven at the Manuka Oval in 2020, but with just over run-a-ball needed for Stars to win, it seemed like this could be a great opportunity to set the record straight.
The Power Surge rule introduced by BBL seemed like it could be an opportunity for the batting side to make good use of it. However, it turned out to hurt Heat today as they scored just 13 runs from the two overs and also lost a couple of wickets when they took it in overs 16 and 17. While it was supposed to be a chance for the batsmen to accelerate, it turned out to be a blessing for the bowling team as a couple of poor shots helped them take control of the game even further.
It also might have been a good idea to take the Power Surge option when Chris Lynn was still at the crease, as he was struggling with his timing. A couple of big hits in those two overs could have seen him get his touch back and that could have propelled Heat to at least a par score.
Also, the fact that Heat lost six wickets for just 25 runs in the final phase also did not help their cause.
NOTE: Melbourne Stars chased down the target in 17.1 overs
At 34 for 3 in the seventh over, Brisbane looked very much in with a shout to perhaps pull it off, but Maxwell and Cartwright stitched together a match-winning 75-run stand off just 51 deliveries to ensure that they cruised to an easy win in the end. Things could have been different had Dan Lawrence held on to a catch at third man when Cartwright was on 10, but after that, the Australian batsman played sensibly, scoring at just about run-a-ball, playing second-fiddle to Maxwell, who was scoring a lot more freely.
Maxwell was eventually dismissed with just 17 more needed of 32 deliveries. Cartwright and Nick Larkin (16*) ensured that there wasn’t a way back in for Brisbane.
With Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mark Steketee, and Mitchell Swepson at Brisbane Heat’s disposal in the upcoming weeks, they are sure to pose a threat in the future matches. As far as the Stars are concerned, the addition of Nicholas Pooran could make their strong batting line-up even more formidable.
Melbourne Stars do not have much time to rest as they take on Sydney Thunder on Saturday (December 12), while Brisbane Heat have a couple of days to rethink their strategy before they too take on Thunder on Monday (December 14).
Brisbane Heat 125 in 19.5 overs (Tom Cooper 26, Chris Lynn 20; Nathan Coulter-Nile 4 for 10) lost to Melbourne Stars 129 for 4 in 17.1 overs (Hilton Cartwright 46*, Glenn Maxwell 46; Jack Wood 2 for 28) by 6 wickets.
Player of the match: Nathan Coulter-Nile.