BBL 2017/18: Brisbane Heat survive Marcus Stoinis scare to edge Melbourne Stars
The packed crowd at The Gabba witnessed another awe-inspiring game of cricket as Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Stars played out a high scoring game in their first encounter in this year's BBL.
Melbourne Stars needed 24 runs in the last over of the match to snatch a victory but managed just 8, eventually losing by 15 runs while chasing 207.
Earlier in the day, Brendon McCullum showed that he had lost none of his touch even after his international retirement. He provided a rip-roaring start to Brisbane Heat who had lost Chris Lynn to a tight hamstring.
But a typical McCullum special treated the sizeable crowd at The Gabba. He came down the track when he wished and flayed at the ball when presented with anything short and wide.
Once he departed, courtesy a slower ball from Marcus Stoinis, Joe Burns and Alex Ross carried on from where he had left off; Burns meted out special treatment to Hastings with a flurry of boundaries, scoring 23 runs off a single over. Ross was subdued but effective in a partnership of 82 runs and both were dismissed after scoring their half centuries.
It was a perfect T20 innings where the momentum switched seamlessly from one batsman to the other. Ben Cutting provided the finishing touches with a quick fire 35 off only 18 balls.
The pitch was conducive to stroke-making but the ball gripped for the spinners and the fast bowlers who used cutters.
Left-arm spinner Michael Beer was the pick of the Stars' bowlers. The other spinners, Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell were less successful but didn’t leak too many runs. It was also somewhat mystifying when death overs and slower ball specialist, James Faulkner, was given only one over despite the other fast bowlers leaking runs. That strange decision would prove to be the decisive factor at the end.
The chase came down to the last over because of one man, Stoinis, who fell short of a well-deserved century by a single run. His stroke making was sublime comprising six sixes and an equal number of fours, but Doggett, Shadab Khan and Mitch Swepson did well to plug the boundaries at the death.
The Stars' innings began with the early wickets of Ben Dunk, last BBL’s top scorer, and Kevin Pietersen. Shadab Khan picked up Maxwell and Luke Wright in the middle overs with his leg spin. He was impressive on his BBL debut, not afraid to toss it up.
Stoinis fought till the end, producing big hits every time the asking rate rose. He showed his full range of shots but the lack of support from his more industrious teammates meant the Stars fell short at the end.