Brisbane Heat 5 for 150 (Lynn 50, Hatzoglou 2-28) beat Melbourne Renegades 6 for 149 (Webster 50*, Steketee 2-24) by five wickets
A classy innings from Joe Burns guided Brisbane Heat to a nervy win over the hapless Melbourne Renegades in a crowd-less game in Canberra.
The game was moved earlier in the week from Melbourne to Canberra due to the Victorian government's changing Covid-19 border restrictions on travellers from Brisbane and as a result no tickets were made available for the match.
Burns made 31 not out from 15 balls after the Heat had lost 4 for 12 in 16 deliveries to help his side to their fifth win of the season. Both sides did their best to lose the game. The Renegades had earlier dropped Chris Lynn twice and also dismissed him off a no-ball during his 40-ball 50. But Lynn handed back the momentum at a critical moment sparking a mini-collapse before Burns steadied the ship.
The Renegades had set a defendable total of 6 for 149 on what was a pretty slow pitch. Beau Webster overcame a slow start to finish with 50 not out from 40 balls while Jake Fraser-McGurk made an enterprising 40 from 33. The pair rescued the Renegades after they had slumped to 4 for 59. Matthew Kuhnemann, Mark Steketee, and Morne Morkel bowled 36 dot balls between them and combined for four wickets. Morkel and Steketee were particularly impressive at the death after Kuhnemann had squeezed the Renegades in the middle overs.
Finch at Four
When Aaron Finch batted at No.3 in the Renegades disastrous loss to Perth Scorchers it seemed the experiment of batting the Australia T20I captain and opener out of position might end there. But with Shaun Marsh's return not only did he not open, he batted outside the top three for the first time in his BBL career and for the first time in 91 T20 innings globally. Since batting at No.4 in an IPL game in 2018 Finch had opened in 85 T20 innings and batted at No. 3 six times. In that period, only Babar Azam has scored more runs as an opener, while no one has scored more than Finch's five centuries. Of the eight openers who have scored 2000 runs or more in the period, Finch has the highest strike-rate and the third-highest average.
Marsh and Mackenzie Harvey opened and when Marsh departed for his first golden duck in BBL cricket, Sam Harper walked out at No.3. Harper and Harvey struck four fours and a six in the powerplay but fell within four balls of each other to leave the Renegades 3 for 36. Finch looked like a fish out of water at No. 4 scoring just 13 off 13 with Kuhnemann tying him down. He was trapped lbw by Jack Wildermuth to a ball nipping back and keeping a touch low to leave the Renegades 4 for 59.
Morkel, with 544 international wickets for South Africa, was called in as the X-factor sub at the 10-over mark for his first game for the Heat and his first game as a local player. As surprising as he was as a sub choice, the move to sub Xavier Bartlett out after he had bowled one over conceding just two runs was equally perplexing. But Bartlett's struggles at the death in the last game meant the Heat were able to get five overs out of Bartlett and Morkel at a cost of 31. Morkel bowled a Power Surge over and two overs at the death, taking 1 for 29 in his first outing off an ankle injury. Steketee also bowled well in the key overs taking 2 for 24 from four. Oddly, Lewis Gregory did not bowl an over for the innings.
The Renegades were able to salvage a defendable total thanks to Fraser-McGurk and Webster. The pair put on 57 with Fraser-McGurk scoring 40 off 33 including a powerful six of Steketee. Webster, who had been the Renegades' best batsman last season, was struggling at 22 off 30 but he made up for it scoring 28 off his last 10 balls to reach his first half-century of the season off the last ball of the innings.
Once, twice, three times a charm for Lynn
Lynn was dropped twice during his half-century against Sydney Sixers and he had even more luck against the Renegades. Lynn and Max Bryant had hardly got away from the Renegades scoring at just over a run-a-ball in the chase. Bryant holed out trying to up the ante. Lynn nearly did the same but Noor Ahmad dropped a skier at deep backward square off Jack Prestwidge. The Heat scraped past the Bash Boost target of 71 off the last ball of the 10th over, having taken 13 from Ahmad's over. Prestwidge then compounded the error. He had Lynn miscue a catch to mid-off with a well-thought-out piece of bowling from around the wicket. The catch was well held, but replays showed Prestwidge had delivered a rare back foot no-ball, and Lynn survived. The free-hit went for four from Joe Denly's bat. Two overs later, Lynn was dropped again. This time, Peter Hatzoglou was the offender at backward point off Imad Wasim. Lynn reached his second half-century in a row. But he didn't make the Renegades pay. He chopped on off Kane Richardson trying to flay him on the up through the offside with the Heat still needing 44 to win from 37 balls.
Lynn's dismissal sparked a mini-collapse. The Heat lost 4 for 12 in 16 balls with a swathe of rash shots as the frugal bowling of Imad and Richardson caused some needless panic. But Burns provided a cool head with some help from the Renegades' inexperienced spinners. Burns struck two fours and a six in four balls without really taking a risk. Hatzoglou dropped short twice and Ahmad tossed one up in the slot for Burns to slog sweep into the empty stands. Burns finished the job in the 19th over with a glorious check drive and then a fortunate thick edge off Richardson. But fortune favours the brave, and Burns deserved every bit of it.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne