Bryant, McCullum stud Brisbane Heat's emphatic win
Brisbane Heat 4 for 192 (McCullum 69, Christian 2-24) beat Melbourne Renegades 91 (Boyce 25, Doggett 3-16) by 101 runs
The Bash Brothers powered Brisbane Heat to a crushing victory over the Melbourne Renegades in Geelong. Remarkably, it was the Heat's first win over the Renegades since BBL-02 semi-final in 2013.
The win was set up by an electrifying opening stand from Max Bryant and Brendon McCullum. After being sent in to bat, the pair put on 70 in just 6.4 overs. McCullum and Chris Lynn then struck nine sixes between them as both made half-centuries to underpin a big total of 4 for 192. Dan Christian was the only bowler to escape the carnage, taking a remarkable 2 for 24 in four overs.
The chase fizzled from the start. Josh Lalor took two wickets in his first two overs as the Renegades slumped to 3 for 29 in the Powerplay. It went from bad to worse thereafter as Brendan Doggett and Mitchell Swepson took three wickets each as the home side folded meekly to be all out for 91.
Bash brothers go berserk
Only once in the tournament have McCullum, Lynn and new "baby bash brother" Bryant clicked in the same game, and that led to a win over the Sydney Thunder. The Renegades lost Usman Shinwari to Pakistan duties and Bryant and McCullum feasted on Joe Mennie and new overseas recruit Harry Gurney in the Powerplay.
The purity of their ball striking on the unusual dimensions of GMHBA Stadium was a joy to watch. The Renegades got both their lengths and lines wrong. The pair took 65 from the first five overs including 11 fours and a six. When Bryant fell, Lynn picked up the slack. He and McCullum struck nine sixes between them. McCullum made his third consecutive fifty and Lynn his third in five starts.
The good Christian
Only one bowler did not concede more than nine-per-over. Christian continues to prove why he is such a valuable T20 commodity. He forced a mis-hit from Bryant to have him caught in the deep. He then conceded just one four and one six in four overs and finished with figures of 2 for 24.
Christian also had Ben Cutting was caught on the rope at long on. But his bowling to Lynn was the most impressive aspect of his work. While others keep straying into his arc, Christian kept the ball wide to Lynn, with a mixture of pace and lengths, to force the best power-hitter in the BBL to hit to his least prolific zone through point.
Christian could have had Lynn caught at deep backward square, with a top edge somehow landing safe despite hanging in the air for six full seconds. Christian's spell was the only reason the Renegades weren't chasing more than 200.
Lynn pulled a rabbit out of his hat at the start of the Renegades innings. Matt Renshaw had never bowled a T20 over in his short career. He had only bowled 12 overs in List A cricket and 28 in 49 first-class games. He opened the bowling with his part-time off-spin to the Renegades' left-handed opening duo of Mackenzie Harvey and Marcus Harris.
He sneaked through the first over conceding just three singles. Mujeeb Ur Rahman was called on to bowl the second over and the Renegades had just five runs from the first 11 balls before Harvey slog swept him for six. But the pressure gauge hit breaking point. Harris holed out off Josh Lalor's bowling two balls later. Lalor gave up one run for the over.
It allowed Lynn to gamble with one more from Renshaw. The Renegades were 1 for 20 after four overs before both Harvey and Sam Harper fell in the last two overs of the Powerplay to leave the Renegades were 3 for 29.
The ship sank quickly
There was no salvage mission of any kind. The captain, Tom Cooper, went down with the ship pinned LBW by Mitch Swepson in the eighth over. The ship then sank without anyone bothering to try and salvage the wreck. Swepson took 3 for 22 and Mujeeb finished with 1 for 16.
The Renegades held back senior pros Mohammad Nabi and Dan Christian until the game was virtually gone. They slumped to 5 for 50 after 10 overs and scored just 41 in the next 7.4 overs to be all out for 91. Doggett cleaning up the tail to finish with 3 for 16.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne