The Report by Tristan Lavalette
Brisbane Heat 8 for 186 (McCullum 56, Lynn 54, Cook 3-27) beat Sydney Thunder 2 for 34 from 5.3 overs (Ferguson 16, Pattinson 1-6) by 15 runs (DLS Method)
Brendon McCullum combined with Chris Lynn to power Brisbane Heat to an imposing total at Spotless Stadium before rain dented Sydney Thunder’s chase of 187. Then the game was decided by the DLS method, with Brisbane 15 ahead at the cut-off time.
After being sent in to bat, Heat’s high-profile top-order finally clicked with McCullum shrugging off a slump and combining in belligerent half-century partnerships with opener Max Bryant and Lynn. Heat looked set to crack the first score of 200 in the tournament before falling in the end overs by losing 6 for 11 to give the home side a sniff.
Thunder, however, struggled against a fired-up James Pattinson before the rain came down as Sydney’s frustrating weather continued to interrupt cricket in the city, following a fifth-day abandonment of the fourth Australia-India Test.
Heat (2-3) were all smiles though after collecting a second straight victory to revive their BBL campaign, while a slumping Thunder (3-4) have lost four of five.
Baz is back
McCullum’s woes had been a chief reason for Heat’s early struggles. With just 30 runs in the Heat’s opening four matches, the former skipper looked a shadow of his blistering best but he was determined to get out of the rut against Thunder.
In trademark fashion, McCullum tried to smash his way back into form but was completely out of touch at the start and unable to connect a slew of attempted slogs. He made just six from his first 12 deliveries before smacking a generous full toss from Chris Green over the ropes to break the shackles.
It proved the required tonic as a rejuvenated McCullum then repeated the dose on his next ball faced by charging Daniel Sams and clearing the boundary. In a complete reversal, a red hot McCullum smashed 30 off nine balls and was matched by Bryant, who has the second highest strike-rate in the tournament.
The openers plundered 76 before Bryant (36 from 23) was bowled by a quicker Jonathan Cook delivery which ricocheted off the pads. McCullum, however, continued the pyrotechnics show and reached his half-century in style with a powerful club into the sightscreen off Fahwad Ahmed.
There was no respite for Thunder with the much-hyped Bash Brothers finally living up to top billing with Lynn showcasing an array of power hitting. Having been somewhat shackled in the opening four games, Lynn rediscovered his sweet timing to pepper the boundaries. McCullum’s entertaining 35-ball knock ended in the 14th over but he laid the perfect platform and revived his BBL campaign.
Thunder spinners fight back
Thunder captain Shane Watson relies on his spinners on the somewhat sluggish Spotless Stadium pitch. With McCullum and Lynn in full flow, Watson’s best laid plans were in ruins with the Heat duo smashing 63 runs from overs seven to 12 against the spin of Ahmed, Cook and Green.
The trio copped much humiliation until the wheel spectacularly turned when Lynn holed out off Cook, who was then on a hat-trick when he trapped in-form Ben Cutting in front. Ahmed and Green joined the party as Heat lost 5 for 2 in 12 balls seemingly out of nowhere.
The batting was admittedly foolhardy but, nonetheless, Watson deserved plaudits for backing his spinners and enticing rash strokes through aggressive field placings.
Buttler’s BBL ends with a whimper
Jos Buttler, the season’s leading run-scorer, has been the standout batsman and hoped to finish his BBL campaign on a high note before travelling to the Caribbean for England’s upcoming tour.
After hitting a boundary off the first ball of the innings, Buttler’s tournament ended in the second over when he was trapped lbw by an aggressive Pattinson.
Joe Root, also in his last BBL match, didn’t face a delivery before rain stopped play in the sixth over. There was one major highlight of Thunder’s brief reply, however, with Watson clubbing a short Mujeeb ur Rahman delivery onto the roof in one of the tournament’s biggest sixes.