The Brisbane Heat, led by Brendon McCullum, started the season with a hard-fought victory over Brad Hodge-led Adelaide Strikers at the Adelaide Oval today. In a high scoring affair, the Heats held their nerve in the dying moments of the game to achieve a narrow 10-run victory. The winning captain was also adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’ for his blistering innings with the bat and astute leadership on the field.
Earlier, Adelaide Strikers won the toss and chose to field first in their home game. However, the Heats got off to a flyer as McCullum and wicket-keeper batsman James Peirson went berserk, scoring 79 in the Powerplay. The pair had added 90 runs for the first wicket in just above 8 overs when Kieron Pollard struck a double blow.
The latter was caught at long-off while trying to hit him over the long-on boundary. McCullum followed the very next ball, hitting straight into Lehmann’s hands at backward point.
There was no respite for the Strikers as Chris Lynn and Alex Ross picked up where the openers had left off. The duo scored 40 for the third wicket before Lynn departed to a brilliant catch from Pollard at deep mid-wicket. Alex Ross, who was then batting on 10 off 16 balls, stepped up the gears thereafter, to plunder 64 off just 36 balls.
The highlight of his knock was a 21-run penultimate over of the innings bowled by Ben Laughlin, taking him for a couple of sixes and fours each. He was eventually dismissed off the last ball of the innings by a yorker from Chris Jordan.
Unfazed by the challenge of chasing down 207, the Strikers opening pair matched their counterparts stroke by stroke with a 133-run first wicket partnership. The Heats opened their bowling with the spin duo of West Indian leg-break bowler Samuel Badree and young off-spinner Jason Floros. Though Badree bowled with control, the experiment with Floros seemed to have backfired as he was taken for 40 in his three overs.
Medium pacer Mark Steketee finally broke through for the Heats as he got the debutant Jake Weatherald to top-edge a pull to deep backward square. Dunk followed soon after, misjudging a slower ball from Ben Cutting to hit a half-hearted drive into the waiting hands of the long-off fielder. His innings was studded with as many as eight fours and five hits over the fence.
The twin dismissals were succeeded by a maiden from Badree, who went wicket-less but finished with respectable figures of 22 off his 4 overs. With 49 required in the last five overs and eight wickets in hand, the Strikers had a good shot at the target, but tidy bowling from leg-break bowler Mitchell Swepson and medium pacer Ben Cutting left them with 17 required off the last over.
Steketee returned to pick two wickets and give away just 6, finishing with figures of 3/32 off his four overs.
Brisbane Heat – 206/5 (Alex Ross 64 (36), James Peirson 46 (29), Brendon McCullum 42 (21); Kieron Pollard 2/27 (4), Chris Jordan 2/29 (3));
Adelaide Strikers – 196/6 (Ben Dunk 85 (43), Jake Weatherald 52 (30); Mark Steketee 3/32 (4), Ben Cutting 2/46 (4));
Result: Brisbane Heat won by 10 runs. Brendon McCullum was adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’.