Melbourne Stars 7 for 167 (Maxwell 83, Zahir 1-29) beat Brisbane Heat 8 for 145 (Banton 64, Zampa 3-30) by 22 runs
After a short break from cricket, Glenn Maxwell returned with a brilliant 83 to spur Melbourne Stars' 22-run victory over winless Brisbane Heat at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast. Heat's chase of 168 was on track with Tom Banton plundering a 35-ball 64, but his dismissal in the 10th over flipped the momentum.
It was an impressive victory for the Stars whose top-order struggled after being sent in. Maxwell, however, came to the rescue with a typically belligerent knock powered by five sixes. He almost single-handedly propelled his team to a total that proved to be enough.
All six bowlers from Heat took one wicket each, but they should be buoyed by an encouraging display from Afghanistan spinner Zahir Khan, who mostly escaped Maxwell's wrath.
The Heat, perennial BBL underachievers, are in an early hole with two straight losses while the Stars started the season well as they look to regroup after last season's meltdown in the final against crosstown rivals Melbourne Renegades.
Stars top-order fail to fire
After opener Nic Maddinson fell cheaply to part-timer Matthew Renshaw, Hilton Cartwright had a golden opportunity to start his new chapter with a bang. Backed at No. 3 by new coach David Hussey, he played several sparkling drives out of the longer format handbook, but his composure didn't last long.
Reprieved in the fifth over by Josh Lalor, Cartwright's luck ran out when he miscued a slog in the next over and was well caught by Max Bryant for 18.
Left out of the ODI tour to India, Marcus Stoinis also had a point to prove. He may have hoped to rekindle his BBL prowess after being one of the top performers last season, but fell for 16 when he holed out in similar fashion to Cartwright.
When 'keeper Jimmy Peirson threw the stumps down and ran out Peter Handscomb for 20, the Stars wobbled at 4 for 74 at the midpoint.
The 'Big Show' returns in style
Maxwell returned to cricket after a self-enforced hiatus dealing with personal issues. And, quite clearly, he hadn't lost his firepower. As his teammates struggled with rhythm, Maxwell - batting without a helmet or cap - showcased precise footwork against the spin combination of Zahir and Mitchell Swepson to smash them into the stands.
He was in a cavalier mood with audacious strokes and equalled his fastest BBL half-century, notched off just 23 balls. The now helmeted Maxwell was clearly enjoying himself and clubbed a couple of sixes in the penultimate over before playing onto his stumps with two balls remaining to end his 39-ball masterpiece.
Rauf's stunning start fails to deter Banton
The Heat got off to a flyer with Englishman Tom Banton going after Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who leaked 19 runs in the second over. Replacing the injured Dale Steyn, Pakistan's Haris Rauf made the perfect start to his BBL career when he claimed Bryant down the leg-side off his first delivery.
Banton, however, continued to take advantage of the powerplay with clean striking over the in-field to underscore an emerging belief that he's the ideal replacement for the now-retired Brendon McCullum. He fittingly reached his half-century by thumping a short Adam Zampa delivery into the second tier, a milestone reached off only 29 deliveries.
All along, Chris Lynn played second fiddle and the lack of strike seemed to unsettle the Heat skipper who holed out off Zampa in the eighth over. The dismissal failed to deter Banton, who smoked new Heat spinner Clint Hinchliffe with a 102-metre blow that almost reached the third tier but shortly after holed out off Zampa. Banton scored 64 of the Heat's first 81 runs but his wicket left the match evenly poised.
Heat strangled by Zampa
The Heat struggled to recapture the momentum after Banton's wicket and went almost five overs without a boundary mid-innings. Maxwell juggled his bowlers to perfection to ensure the Heat batsmen couldn't find any continuity. With Banton no longer menacing, Zampa stymied the run rate with Rauf providing the finishing touches with accurate death bowling to ensure Hussey celebrated a successful start as coach.