The Report by Tristan Lavalette
Hobart Hurricanes 6 for 159 (Short 67, Mujeeb 2-23) beat Brisbane Heat 144 all out (Cutting 58, Faulkner 3-25, Archer 2-23) by 15 runs
Thanks to a disciplined bowling effort, Hobart Hurricanes survived late heroics from Ben Cutting to start their campaign in style against winless Brisbane Heat in the first-ever BBL match at Metricon Stadium in Gold Coast. Earlier, D’Arcy Short smashed a 52-ball 67, laden with four fours and four sixes, to take Hurricanes to 159 for 6.
In a rain-abbreviated 19 overs-a-side contest, last year’s runners-up overcame a flurry from Cutting, who smashed a 32-ball 58 to almost single-handedly deliver Heat’s first victory after their opening loss to Adelaide Strikers. But James Faulkner and Jofra Archer‘s tight bowling in the last two overs – where four Heat wickets fell – made sure Short’s efforts didn’t go in vain.
Chasing 160, Heat lost Brendon McCullum early to a run-out, and were 5 for 93 when Chris Lynn fell for 29, before Cutting counterattacked to ensure a tight finish.
It was a disappointing result for Heat after offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman endorsed Lynn’s decision to bowl with early wickets of Matthew Wade and Alex Doolan, but Short’s heroics ensured Hurricanes recovered with a competitive total.
Inclement weather strikes Gold Coast again
A hailstorm lashed the ground just an hour before play and there were fears of a washout. Wise locals, however, predicted it would pass over and that proved accurate with the match starting only 15 minutes past schedule, as the ground’s lauded draining system ensured the outfield dried sufficiently.
There was much excitement when it was announced Gold Coast would host elite cricket this season, but it has been a rain-marred initiation with the T20I between Australia and South Africa last month reduced to a 10 overs-a-side encounter.
It has been a contrast to Gold Coast’s sunny connotations, but perhaps a more accurate snapshot of Queensland’s fickle pre-Christmas weather.
Mysterious Mujeeb showcases his bag of tricks
There has been much intrigue over 17-year-old offspinner Mujeeb, who has already played all three formats for Afghanistan and showcased his precocious talent in the Indian Premier League.
In his BBL debut against Strikers, Mujeeb surprisingly dazzled with the bat but was wicketless with the ball. Against Hurricanes, Mujeeb quickly found the mark after coming into bowl in the second over and immediately troubled Wade with quick deliveries zipping off the pitch.
He got his man in the fourth over with a carrom ball that cramped Wade to pick up his first BBL wicket. Mujeeb did not have to wait long for his second with a cracker of a delivery to snare Doolan in the sixth over.
After being hit for a boundary, Mujeeb impressively struck back with a slower delivery to bamboozle Doolan with a wrong ‘un that crashed into the stumps. He finished with figures of 2 for 23 – including 13 dot balls – from 4 overs, and possessed the variety and control befitting a veteran.
Big-hitting Short’s controlled aggression
Much of Hurricanes’ success last season was attributed to Short, who was the deserved Player-of-the-Tournament with 572 runs to leapfrog into Australia’s limited-overs teams. He continued his BBL love affair with a knock that included trademark belligerence but in a notably more measured manner.
On a sluggish pitch, Short was watchful early and endured the ignominy of being struck in the groin area by a sharp Josh Lalor delivery. Shortly after, he came alive by crunching a Lalor slower ball over mid-on for six, elegantly holding his shape, followed by smashing a boundary through the leg-side.
His most visceral blow was a baseball-style club over mid-on and into the crowd off Mark Steketee to make the most of Powerplay by scoring 30 runs off 19 runs. Short took a liking to legspinner Mitchell Swepson with consecutive sixes in the 13th over but it was his controlled aggression that spoke of a more mature approach, which should please the national selectors.
His brisk 59-run partnership with Ben McDermott dominated Hurricanes’ innings, with late hitting from George Bailey and Simon Milenko giving them a boost after Short’s dismissal in the 15th over.
Cutting’s heroics in vain
There has been much hype over Heat’s firepower but once again the batting order failed to deliver. They endured a disastrous start when McCullum and Max Bryant were involved in a mix-up resulting in the former captain being run-out in the first ball of the second over.
Bryant shrugged off the calamity by smashing 18 runs off the next five balls with an array of clean striking to underline his innate power. His brisk 15-ball 30 ended through a spectacular diving catch from Riley Meredith leaving the pressure on Lynn and Cutting.
Lynn played against type in a determined bid to bat through the innings but was unable to get going against accurate Hurricanes bowling. He fell for a sedate 29 off 37 balls in the 14th over to effectively crash the home side’s hopes despite the best efforts of Cutting, who posted his first BBL half-century.