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Heat Storm Into Challenger After Heazlett's Heroics

31 January 2021

Brisbane boys complete remarkable turnaround off the back of lone leftie and Jimmy Peirson, downing the Thunder and booking a date with the Scorchers

The scores: Sydney Thunder 8-158 (Cutting 34*, Billings 34) lost to Brisbane Heat 3-162 (Heazlett 74*, Peirson 43*, Labuschagne 32) by seven wickets with five balls to spare

WATCH: Sydney Thunder Vs Brisbane Heat Match Highlights

 

The heroes: Sam Heazlett and Jimmy Peirson were the Brisbane Heat's ice-men as the club yet again recovered from early setbacks to seal their second rollercoaster run chase in three nights.

Heazlett bounced back from a sluggish start to his innings in which he took 27 balls to find his first boundary before going on to stroke a career-best 74 not out to get the Heat home with five balls to spare. His incredible match-winning 92-run stand with Peirson came off just 43 delivers.

The left-handed Heazlett, who averaged 15.87 with the bat before Sunday and was only recalled to the Heat side two nights ago for their Eliminator Final win over Adelaide Strikers, joined Marnus Labuschagne at the crease with the Heat 2-14 but largely struggled to hit the ball off the square as the required run-rate quickly spiralled out of control.

When Labuschagne was out in contentious fashion (more on that below), the Heat needed 89 off the final eight overs.

But the departure of his senior partner and Redlands Premier Cricket teammate Labuschagne in fact proved the trigger for a sudden explosion from the Heat's lone leftie, who immediately blasted 18 off a Tanveer Sangha over.

Sangha then dropped Heazlett on 69 with three overs to spare to sum up the Thunder's woes.

Heazlett found strong support from Peirson, who backed up his run-chase heroics from the Gabba on Friday with a 24-ball 43no as the pair slammed 27 runs off the Power Surge and cruised to victory in sensational style.

The next stop: The Heat's victory sets a date with the Scorchers in Thursday's Challenger Final.

The Scorchers' were meant to host that match at a packed-out Optus Stadium but Perth's five-day lockdown put paid to those plans, with the Scorchers ceding home advantage for their biggest game of the season.

The controversy: Umpiring was in the spotlight for a second straight evening as Labuschagne was given out on the most marginal of run-out calls.

The batsman dove full length to make his ground for a second run as Thunder keeper Sam Billings caught the return throw and flung it towards the stumps in a sweeping motion, with his follow through making it unclear if his arms or the ball had broken the stumps.

Replays appeared inconclusive but with Labuschagne's bat seemingly just inches above the turf when the Zing bails lit up, he was given his marching orders.

The likes of Ricky Ponting in commentary questioned if the television umpire Phil Gillespie had considered whether Billings' arm rather than the ball had dislodged the bails.

The consolation act: Facing the team he left last year in acrimonious circumstances, Ben Cutting delivered a stunning series of blows that almost singlehandedly kept the Thunder in the game.

From 6-110, Cutting blasted 34no from just 18 balls, attacking the Heat bowlers despite wickets falling around him in a blazing counter-attack.

The explosive right-hander smashed the largest of his four sixes off Morne Morkel onto the roof of the Sir Donald Bradman Stand, before following it up as he popped the towering South African over the fence twice more in the final over of the innings.

His exhilarating cameo was a taste of what the Heat have missed this season, with the allrounder (who has now scored 280 runs at 40 with a strike-rate of 156.42 in BBL|10) parting ways with his BBL club of nine seasons over the last off-season.

The spin twins: The Brisbane Heat's unlikely spin duo of Mitch Swepson and Labuschagne have offered a completely new dimension to their bowling, with the leggies again superb in a Heat win.

WATCH: Sweppo LBW

 

Labuschagne took his tournament wicket tally to 10 from five games (at an average of 11) when he got the crucial scalp of his state captain Usman Khawaja for 28, having dropped him off his bowling only a few balls earlier.

Swepson then made two vital breakthroughs in his final over by pinning Daniel Sams and Alex Ross lbw on the crease in identical fashion.

The Test squad pair have been damaging and frugal in equal parts; they now have eight wickets between them in this finals campaign, while their tournament economy rates of 6.80 (Swepson) and 7.33 (Labuschagne) are up there with the best spinners in the league.

The (almost) hat-trick: It was not quite a hat-trick. But three wickets did fall off three consecutive Mark Steketee deliveries – in bizarre fashion.

Only keen-eyed Canberrans would have realised the right-arm speedster was on the verge of the milestone given 15 overs elapsed between his first wicket (Alex Hales caught at mid-on) and his second (Chris Green caught at cover).

Steketee fired in the hat-trick ball from around the wicket to Ben Cutting's pads. His ferocious lbw shout was turned down, but he remarkably still had time to comfortably run Adam Milne out at the striker's end.

The X-factor: The Heat's now regular ploy to make use of Xavier Bartlett's new-ball bowling for an over before bringing Morkel as his replacement to bowl during the back-end of the innings had mixed results.

Bartlett begun the game with a superb maiden over, which could have easily been a wicket maiden had a plumb lbw off Khawaja been given.

Brought in to replace the young quick at the 10-over mark of the first innings, Morkel struck with his second ball to remove Thunder skipper Callum Ferguson. But the veteran then coughed up 25 from his last two overs.

It begs the question whether the Heat would be better off letting Bartlett bowl his full quota of overs with the new ball (not necessarily at Morkel's expense, given the South African's tournament economy rate of 7.70 is sound) given the 22-year-old only seems to get better with each outing.

They are good problems to have, with the likes of Max Bryant and Jack Wildermuth also unable to get a game for the Heat, who appear to be timing their season run perfectly.