The Adelaide Strikers – the BBL’s (Big Bash League) defending champions – got their title defence off to a winning start with a comfortable five-wicket win over the Brisbane Heat in Brisbane.
After being inserted to bat first, the Heat got off to a blistering start as they raced to 55-2 in six overs. Heat captain Chris Lynn starred with the bat as he top-scored with 33 off 20 balls (4×4, 2×6) in a 46-run partnership with opener and debutant Max Bryant (22 off 20 balls, 2×4) before Peter Siddle (1-8 in two overs) dismissed him in the final over of the powerplay.
The wheels started to fall off following the dismissal of Bryant as the middle order collapsed. The introduction of off-spinner Matthew Short (2-14 in three overs) and ICC No 1-ranked T20 bowler Rashid Khan sparked a catastrophic collapse as the Strikers reduced the home team from 81-3 to 101-9 within seven overs.
Rashid Khan showed his class once more in a beautiful exhibition of leg-spin bowling (littered with googlies) to record figures of 3-19 in four overs and put the Strikers in a commanding position during the middle overs.
Controversy ensued during one of Rashid Khan’s overs with James Pattinson being inexplicably adjudged run out by the third umpire even though his bat was over the line when the bails were knocked off.
It was a sporting gesture from South-African and Strikers captain Colin Ingram that rescued the situation as he overruled the umpires and retracted the on-field appeal. It didn’t make much of a difference though, as the wickets continued to fall regularly for the Heat.
It was the 45-run 10th-wicket stand between Jimmy Pierson (24 not out off 13 balls, two fours, one six) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman – who posted the highest score by a No 11 batsman in the BBL with his 27 off 22 balls including three fours – that led the Heat to a respectable 146 all out in 19.4 overs.
Alex Carey led the Strikers’ charge with a swashbuckling 70 off 46 balls, which included five fours and four mammoth sixes. Jonathan Wells took the defending champions over the line with his unbeaten 24 off 22 balls (two fours).
The Strikers cruised to a comfortable five-wicket victory in the final over to get their title defence off to a winning start.
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