Spinners, Head keep Strikers unbeaten
Adelaide Strikers 5 for 158 (Head 57*, Ross 36) beat Brisbane Heat 6 for 152 (Forrest 33, Reardon 31*, Simmons 2-26) by five wickets
An excellent display of spin bowling followed by a fighting partnership between Travis Head and Alex Ross saw Adelaide Strikers maintain their unbeaten start to the season with a five-wicket victory over Brisbane Heat.
Chasing 152, Strikers were facing an uphill struggle near the halfway mark when Kieron Pollard's wicket brought the score to 4 for 63. The opening pair of Tim Ludeman and Craig Simmons, who have been performing well in the season, had added 25 before Simmons was caught well by Nathan Reardon on the rope.
No.3 Jono Dean fell eight balls later for eight and a below-par total suddenly looked a lot more difficult after a Powerplay score of 2 for 40. Ludeman was run-out soon after for a run-a-ball 15 and, two overs later, Pollard fell to James Hopes leaving Strikers in jeopardy.
But Head and Ross consolidated the chase calmly in the tense following overs scampering between the wickets with energy and purpose, using deft touches and clever angles to manoeuvre the Brisbane Heat field. The required run-rate peaked at 9.28 in the 13th over but only fell thereon as Head and Ross' partnership blossomed. Head struck three fours and three sixes on the way to his first BBL fifty, finishing with an unbeaten 57 off 40 balls. Ross scored 36 off 24 before he was caught behind with the Strikers three short of the target. A powerful six over long-on from Johan Botha two balls later completed the victory.
Earlier, Strikers' spin-centric attack bowled well for the fourth consecutive match. Botha took 1 for 25 from his four overs and shuffled his attack cleverly, using six bowlers in the first 11 overs.
Kane Richardson extracted pace from a lively pitch as Heat scored nine runs from their first three overs. The Heat openers, Peter Forrest and Jimmy Peirson, added 49 in the next four overs but Forrest's wicket, lbw to leg-spinner Adam Zampa, triggered a slide that saw Heat lose three wickets for 20 runs in four overs.
Craig Simmons, Botha and Zampa, who took 1-13 from his three overs, complemented each other with different angles, degrees of turn and bounce confounding the Heat middle order.
Frustrated cameos from Chris Lynn , Nathan Reardon [31 not out] and Ben Cutting  held the middle and latter phases of the innings together but none of them ever appeared at ease on a bouncy pitch against some good bowling. The long leg-side boundary from the Stanley Street End produced some busy running between Reardon and Cutting, but it was their inability to capitalise on the short leg-side boundary from the Vulture Street End - they struck just four boundaries between them - that saw them fall 28 short of the average winning total at the Gabba of 170 and to close on 6 for 152.
Meanwhile, Brad Hodge, who was interviewed pitch-side during the match confirmed that he would be undergoing surgery on his injured left arm, but said he retains hopes of appearing in the finals if the Strikers qualify.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket