Heat win to keep semi-final hopes alive
Brisbane Heat 168 for 7 (Vettori 40, van der Merwe 34, Afridi 3-35) beat Melbourne Renegades 156 for 9 (Finch 72, McDermott 3-18) by 12 runs
Astute bowling from Alister McDermott followed lively innings from Daniel Vettori and Roelof van der Merwe to shut out the Melbourne Renegades and keep the Brisbane Heat in touch with a semi-final spot under the roof at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.
Aaron Finch made a strong-armed 72 in the Renegades' chase but had far too little support in a result that left four teams on four points - all with some chance of unseating the Melbourne Stars to claim the last berth in the top four.
Shahid Afridi and Aaron Heal had delivered some arresting overs of spin for Melbourne to reduce the Heat to 5 for 75, but Vettori and van der Merwe added 72 in 42 balls to revive the innings, and the visiting bowlers were disciplined enough to hold out the hosts.
McDermott showed tremendous control, and was well supported by Vettori, Daniel Christian and Michael Neser, who also claimed three wickets. Vettori was named Man Of The Match for his runs and tidy overs.
The Renegades had made a change to the batting order for their chase, promoting Afridi to open. His partner Brad Hodge did not last long, swinging in ungainly fashion at Christian and having his stumps spread-eagled, but Afridi connected with a handful of telling blows to help Finch take 19 from van der Merwe's first over.
McDermott intervened to end Afridi's stay on 26, via a catch at midwicket, and Andrew McDonald followed soon after when his drive failed to clear long-on. Those wickets quelled the hosts' momentum, and a big over was required.
Finch duly delivered in Nathan Hauritz's second over, though the bowler did not help himself by serving up a front-foot no-ball - the unforgivable sin for a slow bowler. The no-ball and the free hit both sailed over the straight boundary, and three sixes in the over, plus a wide, a single and a two, meant 23 runs in the space of six legal deliveries.
Neser stemmed the scoring in the very next over, accounting for Nathan Reardon and Abdul Razzaq to leave Finch seemingly short of batting support. Glenn Maxwell, injured in the field, struck a pair of flat boundaries before skying a catch, and it was left to the former South Australia gloveman Graham Manou to accompany Finch.
Manou showed more experience and sense than some of his predecessors, giving Finch plenty of strike, and the younger man responded with runs. In the 17th over he swung van der Merwe to the midwicket fence, where Chris Lynn took a fine catch but had to throw the ball away before he went over the rope.
Well as Finch had played, the run-rate continued to climb, and from the final ball of the 18th over he sought a risky second run that became fatal when Andrew Robinson managed to hit the stumps from long-on. Manou could only find the boundary with difficulty, and 17 were required from McDermott's final over - far too many against a fast-medium bowler putting the ball more or less where he willed it.
Batting first, Heat were handed a frightful start when Nannes swung the ball late from wide of the crease to open up Robinson and flick his off stump. The No. 3 Lynn was more solid, and Matthew Hayden blustered away to some effect without ever quite timing the ball as he once used to.
A passage of crafty spin followed, with Heal deceiving Hayden and Afridi collecting the next three wickets in the space of four balls, spread over two overs. His googly was particularly effective, bowling Peter Forrest between bat and pad then pinning Christian in front of middle stump.
At 5 for 74 the Heat may well have subsided quickly, but Vettori and van der Merwe provided an intelligent partnership of 72 from 42 deliveries. Vettori's 40 featured some deft flicks over the legside field, and van der Merwe followed suit with a pair of sixes of his own. Afridi's last over went for 14 runs, denting his figures considerably.
A few more big hits meant the Heat had piled up 97 from their second 10 overs, reaching a far better total than had seemed possible at the halfway point of the innings.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo