Melbourne Stars 8 for 134 (Stoinis 43, Cutting 2-10) beat Brisbane Heat 8 for 129 (Renshaw 45, Stoinis 4-21) by five runs
Melbourne Stars set themselves for a push into the BBL semi-finals with a superb bowling display which defended the lowest score successfully protected at the MCG and in turn left Brisbane Heat on the verge of being eliminated.
The Heat played a significant hand in their own downfall with some poor shot selection but appeared to be on course at 4 for 111, needing 24 off 20 balls. However, Matt Renshaw was caught behind off the in-form Marcus Stoinis, who produced an outstanding all-round display, as he and Dwayne Bravo closed out the innings with skill.
The Stars are now one of three teams on 12 points behind the runaway leaders Hobart Hurricanes and have a good chance of securing a home semi-final. The Heat started the night with five games to play but this defeat means they probably now need to win all four to progress.
The Stars had a star-stubbed middle order but they couldn’t make the most of solid base provided the by the opening stand of 63 between Stoinis and Ben Dunk. After Stoinis was trapped lbw by Ben Cutting, Peter Handscomb picked out mid-off and Glenn Maxwell found fine leg. There were only six fours in the innings alongside three sixes as Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mitch Swepson proved hard to score off.
Only one way to play?
Although the target was modest, it was clear from the first innings that there would need to be some shrewd batting. That, though, is not always what you associate with the Heat who pack their top order with hitters and play the same way regardless. Max Bryant, who has been one of the breakout stars of this tournament, was threatening to make a mockery of conditions as he hit five boundaries in an 18-ball stay which should have given the Heat plenty of breathing space.
But when he was caught at deep midwicket, Chris Lynn was lbw playing across the line to Adam Zampa and then Brendon McCullum found long-on when the required rate was still well within the realms of knocking the ball around. Worse followed when Alex Ross slapped a long-hop from Bravo straight to point and the Heat were 4 for 54 in the ninth over.
It had been a contrasting 24 hours, or more, for Stoinis and Renshaw with the pair swapping places in Australia’s Test squad. Renshaw’s comeback lasted one squad in which he quickly moved down the pecking order. It was, therefore, to his credit that he produced a skilful and calm innings to put his team’s chase back on track. It was rarely pretty, but he worked the ball around effectively forming a steady partnership with Jimmy Peirson.
Victory was there for the taking for the Heat, but Stoinis would have the final say. Trying to ramp a short delivery, Renshaw edged to the wicketkeeper and in Stoinis’ next over Peirson was taken by Maxwell at long-on. Against the variations of Stoinis and Bravo, the lower order could barely connect and only a penultimate ball boundary for Swepson got the margin as close as it was.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.