Khawaja, Bartlett step up and take Brisbane Heat to Challenger
Shaun Marsh's 82 in vain as Renegades get knocked out; Heat to face Sydney Sixers for a place in the final
Brisbane Heat 164 for 3 (Khawaja 59, Brown 39, Renshaw 27*, Rogers 2-33) beat Melbourne Renegades 162 for 5 (Marsh 82*, Critchley 23, Bartlett 3-18, Neser 2-33) by seven wickets
Usman Khawaja signed off from the BBL in style as Brisbane Heat knocked out Melbourne Renegades after a seven-wicket victory at Marvel Stadium.
Chasing 163 under the roof, Khawaja notched 59 off 47 balls in his second straight half-century in the finals series before Matt Renshaw calmly guided Heat to victory with seven balls to spare.
Renegades' attack failed to penetrate in their finals match since winning the title four years ago as their season ended at the hands of a ruthless Khawaja and Renshaw.
A new-look Heat will face Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Thursday with a grand final spot against Perth Scorchers up for grabs.
Heat will be without Khawaja, Renshaw and Marnus Labuschagne who depart for Australia's upcoming tour to India.
Khawaja, Renshaw finish BBL stints in style
After an unspectacular return to the BBL, Khawaja came to life with a brilliant 94 in Heat's Eliminator victory over Sydney Thunder.
He continued his strong bounce back with two boundaries in the opening over off Tom Rogers and collected five overall in his first 14 deliveries faced.
His belligerence rubbed off on struggling opener Josh Brown, who emerged from a rut with a slew of sixes as the pair briskly notched a half-century partnership.
Brown fell to David Moody after but Khawaja remained unruffled and then hit a six off spinner Corey Rocchiccioli to reach his half-century in spectacular fashion.
But he holed out in the 16th over with Heat 41 runs short of victory and the demons of their recent horror collapse against Hobart Hurricanes still fresh.
An aggressive Renshaw, however, showed no signs of nerves as he hit 27 off 13 balls to blast Heat into 'The Challenger' against Sixers.
Shorthanded Renegades fail to probe
Without spearhead Kane Richardson, who missed due to family reasons, a shorthanded Renegades attack lacked penetration but hung in on a two-paced surface to drag out the match.
After being smashed early, Renegades bowled accurately in the middle overs as Heat's required run rate slowly increased.
The match turned in the 16th over during the power surge when Rogers claimed the key wickets of Khawaja and Labuschagne.
But they couldn't halt the rampaging Renshaw as Renegades' rebound of a season - after three straight last-placed finishes - came to an end.
Bartlett steps up
Heat suffered a blow with legspinner Mitchell Swepson being unavailable due to him preparing for Australia's tour of India.
After a slow start to the season, Swepson had become a key part of Heat's attack with his ability to bowl accurately in the middle overs alongside fellow spinner Matthew Kuhnemann.
Heat replaced him with seamer Xavier Bartlett, who got the nod over veteran Mark Steketee. The 24-year-old Bartlett had only taken one wicket in three previous BBL matches this season, but justified his selection with inspired bowling.
He shared the new ball and removed out-of-form Martin Guptill before outfoxing Sam Harper, who ramped straight to fine leg.
Bartlett capped a stellar performance with a clever slower delivery to dismiss dangerous Matt Critchley.
A lot has been expected from highly-rated Bartlett, who hasn't quite delivered until impressively producing in this high-stakes contest.
He was well supported by fellow quicks Michael Neser and Spencer Johnson, who continued his breakout season with accurate fast bowling.
Shaun Marsh relishes the big stage of finals
Shaun Marsh's never-ending injury woes have continued this season, where he played just five regular season matches.
But even in the twilight of his career, Marsh proved there is no substitute for experience to dominate Renegades' see-saw of an innings.
He made an ominous start with a boundary on the first ball of the innings before being bogged down.
Marsh decided to make his move against Johnson in the fourth over with consecutive boundaries before being dropped on 14 by James Bazley at short fine leg.
It was a costly miss for Heat as Marsh cashed in with a targeted assault on Kuhnemann as he smashed two sixes in the sixth over.
He wound back the clock with gorgeous drives to power Renegades' innings after top-order batters Guptill, Harper and Aaron Finch failing to make significant impacts.
Marsh, who turns 40 in July, ran out of puff towards the backend but proved he still has something left in the tank to finish on an unbeaten 82 off 53 balls.
It was his fifth half-century in eight finals matches, but ultimately not enough.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth