Mujeeb's 2 for 10 ends Heat's winless streak
Perth Scorchers 6 for 135 (Turner 47, Mujeeb 3-22) lost to Brisbane Heat 5 for 139 (Lynn 33, Coulter-Nile 3-25) by five wickets
A magical spell from Mujeeb Ur Rahman helped Brisbane Heat break their drought in the 2018-19 BBL, as they beat the struggling Perth Scorchers at the Perth Stadium.
On a pitch purpose-built for fast bowling, Mujeeb's mystery spin completely bamboozled the Scorchers top order after they were sent in to bat. He took 2 for 10 in four overs, which included two wides. The Scorchers, at one stage, looked like they might not muster 120. But another gem from Ashton Turner gave them a target to bowl at. Turner made 47 from 30 balls when no other Scorchers batsman struck at better than a run-a-ball.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, having been left out of the Australian ODI side due to fitness concerns, made a statement with the ball, taking 3 for 25 to give the Scorchers a chance. But some powerful hitting from Ben Cutting and Joe Burns saw the Heat home with 10 balls to spare to get them off the bottom of the table.
Mujeeb the magician
In the previous game at Perth Stadium, such was the fire and pace in the pitch that the Scorchers did not bowl a single over of spin. The Heat decided to bowl Mujeeb twice in the Powerplay, and it paid dividends. Michael Klinger and Cameron Bancroft, Scorchers' fifth opening combination in six games, were extremely cautious. Mujeeb conceded five runs in 12 balls, two of them to wides. Klinger and Bancroft got the Scorchers through the Powerplay unscathed, but their 56-run partnership chewed up 8.3 overs, before Bancroft holed out for 26 off 27 balls. Mujeeb returned in the 10th over and baffled Klinger, nearly bowling him with a wrong 'un before deceiving him with a leg break to have him stumped by a mile. Mitchell Marsh struggled to get going, scoring 11 off 16 balls before Mujeeb bowled his last over in the 15th. He had Marsh caught at backward point first ball. Mujeeb's figures were the joint second-most economical figures by a Heat bowler in BBL cricket, and the Scorchers were in a huge hole with the run-rate at just six per over.
Ashton Turner held the key again. He struck the only three boundaries between the end of the Powerplay and the start of the 19th over. His placement and running between the wickets were excellent again as he tried to make up for Marsh and Ashton Agar's struggles. He had reached 35 off 24 balls, and the total 5 for 120, with seven balls left. He was facing the express James Pattinson and took a wild swing at a length ball, appearing to get a huge nick to keeper Jimmy Peirson. Heat were convinced. The umpire shaped to raise his finger and then changed his mind and shook his head. Pattinson and his skipper Chris Lynn were livid. The non-decision allowed Turner to score 12 runs in the last over, including a powerful cover drive and an outrageous scoop over the keeper's head for six before he fell for 47 from 30 balls. It helped raise the total to 6 for 135, but it came at a cost, with Turner reaggravating a right shoulder injury that has plagued him in recent years. He was unable to field in the second innings.
Coulter-Nile fires up
Nathan Coulter-Nile was left out of the Australian ODI squad for the series against India due to "back soreness". But he told ABC radio pre-game that he felt there might have been a slight communication breakdown between the selectors, the medical staff and himself. He did note that he had a scan on his sore back after the ODI squad was announced, but was cleared to play for the Scorchers. He took two key wickets in the Powerplay, forcing Max Bryant and Brendon McCullum to both miscue to mid-on by generating bounce. He cranked it up to speeds above 140kph. Lynn and Matthew Renshaw steadied with a decent partnership of 39, although Lynn had a lot of luck, including Klinger dropping a simple catch. Jhye Richardson finally claimed Lynn, with Klinger making amends under a skier. Jason Behrendorff trapped Renshaw in front, before Coulter-Nile returned to find Peirson's outside edge to give the Scorchers an outside chance.
Cutting cuts loose
The Heat needed 43 runs from 42 balls with five wickets in hand. That became 29 from 21 after Joe Burns and Ben Cutting scored one boundary in 3.3 overs and absorbed 10 dots between them. Burns released the pressure with a huge slog sweep for six off Agar. Cutting took strike to Richardson, with Heat needing 21 from 18 balls. He had been struggling with a back complaint. He decided to stand and swing. He hit 20 off the over. The first strike was one of the biggest of the tournament, into the upper deck of the Perth Stadium at square leg. He then lasered two cover-drives and finished the over with a powerful blow straight to the sightscreen off a low full toss to level the scores with two overs left. Burns found the winning runs when he attempted to hook AJ Tye and the ball ricocheted off the helmet to third man.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne