Muttiah Muralitharan tied Heat down last season. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Gregg Porteous
By all rights, Brisbane Heat should be two from two in BBL03 after setting the highest total in competition history at the ‘Gabba on Saturday night. Trouble is Hobart managed to top it with four balls still to spare after former Queenslander Ben Dunk came back to haunt his old state teammates by scoring the fastest fifty in the tournament. Heat started last season’s event slowly and the team in teal can’t afford to get behind the eight-ball in this edition.
One team which has already fallen off the pace is last season’s surprise packet, the Melbourne Renegades . Inspired by Aaron Finch last season, the Renegades won six of eight qualifying matches, but remain winless after two games in this Big Bash. Not surprisingly, skipper Aaron Finch hasn’t been able to tee off in either game scoring 32 against the Stars and 15 against the Scorchers as his team couldn’t chase down Perth’s total of 117. In the two qualifying matches the men in red lost with Finch in their colours last season, he scored 23 or under, which underlines how important the opener racking up a big score is to the Renegades’ skinny batting line-up. Their pace stocks have received a boost with former Test quick James Pattinson returning from a back injury. England T20 player Jos Buttler will play with the disappointing news in-form Pakistani Mohammad Hafeez has been called up to his nation's Test team and won't be available for the Big Bash. Alex Doolan will also play, despite his inclusion in Australia's squad for the 5th Ashes Test in Sydney.
Heat skipper James Hopes will miss this match after suffering an abdominal strain against the Hurricanes. He’ll be just as concerned about his pace bowlers’ inability to restrict the visitors at the weekend, even on a ripping batting pitch at the ‘Gabba. Alister McDermott , Dan Christian and Ben Cutting all copped some tap from the Tassie boys, although Dan Vettori was again impressive taking 2/32 off his allotted four overs.
These teams met twice at Docklands last Big Bash, with Heat knocking the Renegades out of the finals series after Luke Pomersbach rifled 112 not out off just 70 balls. Cutting and McDermott were the destroyers with the ball as Melbourne fell 15 runs short. That was minus Finch, but in the round match between the teams, it was evergreen Sri Lankan tweaker Muttiah Muralitharan who did the damage collecting 2/22 off four overs. Cutting was again the star for Brisbane conceding just 12 runs off four overs while picking up two wickets.
The Renegades posted a bigger opening stand in both matches between the teams last season. Critically, Heat has lost an early wicket in their opening two clashes in BBL03 with Pomersbach failing to fire so far, although Craig Kieswetter showed the fireworks he’s capable of with a whirlwind 50 off 24 balls against the Hurricanes.
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