Recent Match Report – Heat vs Scorchers 32nd Match 2023/24


Brisbane Heat 191 for 6 (Neser 64*, Labuschagne 45) beat Perth Scorchers 168 for 9 (Evans 51) by 23 runs

Michael Neser starred with a spectacular all-round performance as Brisbane Heat secured the BBL’s top spot after a drought-breaking victory over nemesis Perth Scorchers at the Gabba.

There was much at stake in the top-of-the table clash with Heat locking in a home qualifying final on the Gold Coast on January 19, while two-time defending champions Scorchers were unable to wrap up a finals berth.

In a replay of last season’s epic final, Heat were in trouble at 91 for 5 before Neser and Sam Billings struck a belligerent 80-run partnership from 41 balls.

Neser was unstoppable with 64 off 30 balls at No. 7 as Heat smashed 100 runs off the last 47 balls.

Scorchers rued an unusually ragged effort in the field and were always up against chasing 192 with Neser taking two wickets and his heroic effort also included a brilliant catch to dismiss Josh Inglis.

The teams will renew their rivalry on Saturday at Optus Stadium.

Unbeaten Heat had been the form team of the competition, but faced a litmus test against Scorchers who had won the past six matches between the teams.

After Khawaja elected to bat, the contest lived up to the hype during a frenetic powerplay laced with a flurry of boundaries and two wickets from knuckle balls by left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff.

Having battled on tough Test surfaces against Pakistan, Khawaja relished the batting-friendly conditions to bludgeon three boundaries in the first over off quick Jhye Richardson.

On a flat surface, Behrendorff cleverly mixed his speeds but Richardson erred by bowling too short and he was dispatched by Labuschagne for a trio of boundaries.

Left-arm wrist spinner Hamish McKenzie was selected over veteran seamer Andrew Tye due to Heat’s slew of left-handed batters. He came on in the sixth over as Labuschagne and Matthew Renshaw aimed to build a partnership.

But Renshaw, who was selected in Australia’s Test squad against West Indies, could not get going and he fell to left-arm spinner Ashton Agar on 18.

Heat were further derailed two balls after drinks when Labuschagne nicked off for 45 to quick Lance Morris. Rather farcically Labuschagne was at the wrong end on resumption and should have been on strike instead of Billings, who then took a single off the first ball.

The batters struggled to pick McKenzie, who continued an impressive debut BBL season having pushed through a back injury. He combined well with Agar, who was coming off the remarkable figures of 2 for 6 from four overs against Sydney Thunder.

But Neser ignited Heat with three consecutive boundaries off Morris before Billings took over with lusty hitting after the power surge was taken late in the innings.

Showcasing his ever improving batting, Neser smashed his first BBL half-century as he pummelled the previously miserly Behrendorff for three sixes in the last over to lift Heat to a total that had seemed well beyond them.

Neser then dented Scorchers’ fast start in reply with the wicket of opener Zak Crawley in the third over. It was Crawley’s final BBL appearance before he heads off to England’s tour of India.

Bowling at speeds around the mid-140kph, left-arm quick Spencer Johnson was a handful and his sharp short-pitched delivery accounted for Whiteman.

The pressure fell on Aaron Hardie and Inglis, who bat well together. But Inglis had to take the lead when Hardie holed out on for 14 and he attacked through the off-side.

He gave Scorchers hope with a 48-run partnership with Laurie Evans, who clubbed a golf-like tee shot into the stands off Neser.

But Neser’s stunning catch running back to the boundary to dismiss Inglis in the power surge gave Heat a stranglehold.

Evans tried to provide a late twist as he unfurled strokes similar to his recent 28-ball 85 against Adelaide Strikers. Batting deep in the crease, Evans powered to a half-century off 27 balls but ran out of support as Heat clinched a pivotal victory.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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