Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn made light work of the Melbourne Stars attack at the MCG
Brisbane Heat 144 for 1 (Lynn 63*, McCullum 61, Bowe 1-21) beat Melbourne Stars 141 for 7 (Maxwell 50, Pietersen 30, Swepson 3-14) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Bash Brothers – Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum – finished the job but it was Brisbane Heat’s spin twins – Mitchell Swepson and Yasir Shah – who strangled the Melbourne Stars at the MCG, consigning them to a nine-wicket defeat.
Swepson and Shah put on a leg-spin masterclass, taking 4 for 30 in eight overs of exceptional variety and control, having identified the MCG pitch would respond to a slightly quicker and shorter trajectory. McCullum and Lynn opened the batting for the first time this season and produced a 101-run stand in just 10.4 overs. McCullum was the only wicket to fall during Heat’s win.
Thanks to the victory, the Heat vaulted into the top four on the BBL table with their third victory in five games while the Stars slumped to their third straight loss in as many appearances since the start of the season.
Spin to win
Shah opened the bowling in a bold move that paid immediate dividends. He trapped Ben Dunk in front in his second over after conceding just three runs from his first.
The Heat, however, nearly let the early advantage slip. They paid dearly for three dropped catches on New Year’s Eve against the Adelaide Strikers and carried the catching form to the MCG. Cameron Gannon dropped a simple chance off Luke Wright down at third man in the second over. Then Joe Burns dropped a straightforward chance off Kevin Pietersen at cover, and McCullum feared the worst as Pietersen raced to 28 and the Stars reached 1 for 53 after seven overs. McCullum, however, then turned back to leg-spin. Swepson lured Wright down the track and beat him on the inside edge to have him stumped by a mile.
It was how the duo bowled to Glenn Maxwell that forced the wickets of Pietersen and Marcus Stoinis. Maxwell scored five runs from his seven balls before Pietersen holed out trying to pick up the rate. Maxwell was 16 off 19 without a boundary of either spinner when Stoinis was run out trying to pinch a second run that wasn’t on. Rob Quiney was Swepson’s third scalp in his last over and the Stars were 5 for 85 with only six overs left.
Maxwell has battled for form all through the tournament after dominating the Sheffield Shield in the lead-up. He played an innings that was most unlike him but was invaluable for his team. At one stage, he was 30 off 30 before he launched his first six. That sparked him to life. He scored 20 in nine balls to reach his first fifty of the season before miscuing a ball badly off the toe of the bat. As ugly as it was, he did enough to help lift the total above 140.
Lynn was promoted to open with McCullum to try and make the most of the new ball on the unusual surface. Lynn gave John Hastings a gift-wrapped chance off the third ball of the innings from James Faulkner. It was waist-high, slightly to his right on the ring at mid-off, Hastings took four bites at it before it fell to the turf. Hearts around the MCG sank immediately.
Bash Brothers open up
McCullum shimmied down the track one ball later and clipped beautifully wide of mid-on for four and that was that. McCullum targeted Stars danger man Michael Beer, partnering Lynn to launch three fours and a six in his two overs in the Powerplay. Beer had previously conceded less than five an over in Powerplays this season. While Lynn took 24 balls to get his strike-rate above 100, McCullum’s hovered above 200. He hit seven fours and three sixes in a 30-ball 61 before holing out to Quiney. Lynn reached his slowest half-century in BBL cricket, off a comparatively tortoise-like 40 balls. As poorly as he hit the ball by his incredible standards, he still matched McCullum’s seven fours and three sixes and finished the job alongside Burns with 32 balls to spare.