They might have been dropped from their respective Test sides but Joe Denly (36-ball 50) and Joe Burns (38-ball 52) looked at their absolute best in a completely different format, helping Brisbane Heat defeat Sydney Thunder by five wickets in Match No. 28 of the Big Bash League 2020-21 at The Gabba on Monday (January 4). With this win, Brisbane moved to the sixth spot, while the Thunder are still placed at No. 2.
Opting to bat, Alex Hales (26-ball 46), Daniel Sams (18-ball 37) and Ben Cutting (15-ball 24) all chipped in with fiery cameos to lead Sydney to 174/8 in their 20 overs. In reply, Chris Lynn got Brisbane off to a superb start before Denly and Burns put on 90 runs for the third wicket to help their team chase down the total in 19.1 overs.
HALES, SAMS AT IT AGAIN
Thunder got off to the worst possible start as they lost Usman Khawaja (0) in the very first over. The left-hander was caught brilliantly by Mujeeb Ur Rahman at short fine leg, but Hales and Callum Ferguson put on 77 runs for the second wicket to set a perfect platform for the middle-order. Skipper Ferguson was sedate with his approach but Hales played his natural game from the word go. The Englishman slammed Xavier Bartlett for two fours and a six in the third over, as Sydney scored 32 runs in the powerplay.
There was at least one boundary scored in almost every over and Hales in particular didn't allow any bowler to settle in. The right-handed opener smacked three fours and as many sixes before falling to Mujeeb in the ninth over. The mystery spinner from Afghanistan later returned to get rid of Ferguson (34-ball 35) and finished with figures of 2/26. Mujeeb also got rid of Sam Billings (16-ball 22) via run out in his last over and reduced Sydney to 108/5 at the end of 14 overs.
Sydney needed a rapid finish and they got that once again from Sams and Cutting. Sams, who clobbered a match-winning 25-ball 65 against Brisbane earlier in the tournament, didn't take much time to settle in despite getting hit on the helmet. The Thunder needed to go big in the Power Surge (overs 17-18) and that's exactly what Sams and Cutting did. Sams whacked Mark Steketee and Lewis Gregory for two fours and as many sixes in the next eight deliveries before falling to the latter in the 18th over.
Once Sams departed, Cutting took over and kept the attack going. The Power Surge yielded 35 runs and that helped Sydney to go past that 170-run mark. Cutting smoked two sixes in his cameo against his former franchise before perishing in the final over. Sydney managed to post a competitive total but they lost Sams because of the concussion he suffered while batting, with Chris Tremain taking his place.
THE JOE AND JOE SHOW
Lynn, who injured his hamstring on December 23, was brought in as the X-factor sub despite not being 100 percent fit. The dasher along with Max Bryant got Brisbane off to a flying start but neither of them could go big. Bryant (11-ball 15) fell to Chris Green in the fourth over but Lynn carried on for a while. The right-hander blasted three fours and two sixes in his 16-ball 30 before falling to the young legspinner Tanveer Sangha.
Coming in at No. 4, Burns looked a different beast altogether and took the attack to the Thunder bowlers from the word go. Burns, who was recently dropped from the Test squad, hit Tremain for 14 runs in an over and also didn't allow Cutting to settle in. Burns batted with a free mindset and found good support from Denly who was slightly more sedate with his approach. The Heat raced to 99/2 by the end of 10 overs and bagged the Bash Boost point by a comfortable margin.
With 76 needed off 60, Sydney needed a couple of quick wickets but Burns and Denly batted smartly for the next four overs and ensured Brisbane didn't lose a single wicket. For Sydney, Green (1/20) bowled with great control but Denly tried to close the game in the 15th over by hammering Sangha for two sixes and a four. The right-hander from England completed his fifty in the process but couldn't carry on and was stumped in the same over. Before the dust had settled, Gregory (0) was caught at deep mid-wicket in the very next delivery.
Brisbane might have had the reputation of not closing games but Burns and Jimmy Peirson held their nerves and didn't allow Sydney to make a comeback. Burns brought up his fifty off 35 deliveries but couldn't finish the job, falling to Nathan McAndrew in the 19th over. James Bazley missed the first two deliveries he faced but hit the third one for a boundary to kill the game. It was skipper Peirson (15*) who slapped Sangha towards sweeper cover and got the required two runs to get his team over the line.