Defending BBL champions make winning start

The eighth edition of the Big Bash League kicked off in style at the Gabba as defending champions Adelaide Strikers made a winning start to their campaign on the back of a half-century from Alex Carey. In the tournament opener, on Wednesday (December 19), the Strikers chased down 147 without much fuss, as Brisbane Heat conceded a five-wicket win.

Brendon McCullum kickstarted the innings with a boundary, in typical fashion, before Billy Stanlake struck off the next ball. The Strikers would’ve briefly questioned their decision of bowling first after Chris Lynn’s fireworks at the top that promised an imposing total for them to chase. He dispatched their star legpsinner Rashid Khan for a boundary off the first ball in his spell, finishing off with a six off the last ball, racing away to 33 off 19 as Heat ended the Powerplay with 49 on the board.

Peter Siddle, who was the pick of the bowlers early on, struck to send Lynn back, which spurred a collapse of sorts that saw Heat lose 7 for 23. From 50 for 1, they found themselves reeling at 101 for 9, with Rashid picking up two wickets in an over ending with returns of 3 for 19. A run-out appeal against James Pattinson in the 13th over, however, left the players as well as the spectators confused. Pattinson had made his ground with a dive thrown in, as replays on the big screen suggested, but an “OUT” flashed on the screen. Pattinson was walking back as Lynn and coach Vettori were involved in a heated chat with the reserve umpire, but skipper Colin Ingram withdrew the appeal to prevent the issue from being made a big deal of.

It would’ve still been an embarrassing finish for the home side had it not been for the tenth wicket stand between Mujeeb Ur Rahman and ‘keeper Jimmy Peirson, who saved their side blushes with a 29-ball 45-run stand. Mujeeb and Peirson took advantage of some ordinary bowling in the death from the Strikers, taking their side to a respectable 146 before being bowled out in the final over. Mujeeb was the last man to fall for 27 off 22 – the second-highest scorer in the line-up after Lynn.

Opener Carey got the Strikers to a sedate start before blazing through to a 46-ball 70. With Jake Weatherald being put down off a sitter in the second over, he was happy to play second fiddle to Carey who took the bowlers on. Mujeeb and Pattinson kept things tight upfront before Mark Steketee’s 19-run over in the fifth got the Strikers making a move on. Weatherald departed for 17, and Ingram soon after, but Carey carried on unperturbed taking them over the 100-run mark, en route a half-century before being bowled by Mitchell Swepson, against who, he had earlier survived a caught-behind call after he feathered to it to the ‘keeper.

Jake Lehmann and Jonathan Wells played composed knocks to see their side over the line before the former fell just on the brink of a win. Wells remained unbeaten on 24 as the Strikers crossed the line with five balls to spare. Pattinson returned 2 for 23, in four overs of sheer pace, was promising given that the Heat had drafted him into their squad for exactly that after having lacked it the last few seasons.

Heat will travel to Gold Coast for the first-ever BBL game at the Metricon Stadium, where they will take on Hobart Hurricanes, while the Strikers will host their first home game against Melbourne Renegades.

Brief scores: Brisbane Heat 146 in 19.4 overs (Chris Lynn 33; Rashid Khan 3-19) lost to Adelaide Strikers 147/5 in 19.1 overs (Alex Carey 70; James Pattinson 2-23) by five wickets.

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