In a match reduced to ten overs, Brisbane Heat’s fielding acrobatics helped them defend a revised score
Brisbane Heat 3 for 115 (Lynn 48, Zampa 2-7) beat Melbourne Stars 5 for 110 (Larkin 35*, Steketee 3-25) by 17 runs (DLS method)
Chris Lynn returned to his barnstorming best with a blistering 48 as the Brisbane Heat claimed their fourth win in five matches to vault past the Melbourne Stars in the BBL table in a bizarre rain-affected match on the Gold Coast.
Rain delayed the start, reducing the game to a 17-over affair, before two half-hour stoppages during the Heat’s first innings reduced it again to a ten-over match and caused mayhem with bowling restrictions and DLS calculations.
Lynn held his nerve throughout a thumping 48 off 23 balls including three fours and four sixes. He combined for 68 in 6.4 overs with Max Bryant before Adam Zampa claimed two wickets in two balls. The Stars’ skipper Glenn Maxwell gambled with his key bowlers before the rain and could not use them when the overs were reduced, as he and Hilton Cartwright were carted by Joe Burns and Lewis Gregory to allow the Heat post 3 for 115, with the Stars’ DLS target revised to 129.
Andre Fletcher battled in the chase, scoring just 15 off 13 to set the Stars behind the rate which they could never catch up. Marcus Stoinis made 34 off 20 and Nick Larkin 35 not out from 16, but some disciplined Heat bowling and phenomenal catching and outfielding saw the Stars fall 17 runs short.
Lynn came in as the X-Factor sub in the Heat’s last match against Sydney Thunder, scoring a critical 30 off 16 to set up the chase. But the skipper was back at the helm and led from the front with a vintage performance.
Lynn and Bryant combined for 47 in the powerplay, the Heat’s best of the tournament to-date. They feasted on the pace of Haris Rauf, Sam Rainbird and Billy Stanlake, as rain greased up the surface and helped them club seven fours and three sixes in a partnership of 67 from 40 balls. The quality of the striking was phenomenal and unrelenting. It would have continued if not for a stunning juggling catch from Stoinis at cover off Zampa to remove Bryant. Zampa followed that by sliding the next ball through the defence of Denly to pin him lbw and halt the Heat’s momentum.
The rain giveth, the rain taketh away
Just as the Stars had regained some momentum, the rain came. A 30-minute delay reduced the game to 14 overs-a-side but it changed the over limits on the bowlers. Maxwell had gambled with two overs from each of his four frontline bowlers in the first eight overs and lost. He had to bowl himself to Lynn on resumption and got dispatched for consecutive sixes before rain stopped play again.
Another 30-minute delay reduced the game to a ten-over fixture. The Heat had ten balls to feast on Maxwell and another part-timer. Maxwell clean bowled Lynn first ball but his last went for six, with substitute Tom O’Connell dropping Gregory at deep midwicket over the rope. Cartwright was called on to bowl the tenth and gave up 22 runs, including an above waist-high no-ball that went for four and a poorly executed slower ball bouncer that disappeared over the rope. Burns finished with 22 off 11 and Gregory 9 off 3, while Zampa’s figures of 2 for 7 from two overs shone like a beacon for the Stars after conceding 3 for 115.
The Heat’s fielding was sublime with two stunning catches and an extraordinary six save. The Stars opted to stick with their opening pair of Fletcher and Stoinis, and took 36 from the first four overs. But despite that, they were miles behind the required run-rate with Fletcher battling at a run-a-ball. The misery ended when he fell in the fifth over to a brilliant team effort. Fletcher lofted Mujeeb ur Rahman straight down the ground, as Mark Steketee took the catch while reaching over the rope with one foot planted inside and then flicked it to Xavier Bartlett as he fell over. In the next over, Gregory held on to a difficult, towering sky ball at deep backward square to remove Nicholas Pooran, who had hit 17 off five balls.
The Heat held every chance that came their way and nearly invented one more. Bryant almost repeated what Steketee had done at deep midwicket in the eighth over, only for replays to show he was a split second too slow to release the ball as his foot was just touching the ground outside the rope. He made up for it in the ninth though, preventing a six off Nick Larkin with a spectacular save at deep midwicket. With the ball certain to land well over the rope for six, Bryant dived like a goalkeeper back and to his right, took the catch one-handed at full stretch in the air and flicked it back into play before landing, thus turning a certain six runs into two. It saved four runs from a wayward Gregory over and meant Bartlett was defending 23 in the last over instead of 19, which he closed it out with ease.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne