A stunning 15-ball blitz from Daniel Sams has lifted the Sydney Thunder to its highest BBL score of the summer yet as Test hopeful Mitch Swepson struggled with an injury scare and wet conditions.
The Thunder recovered from a sluggish start, smashing 86 runs from the last six overs of their innings to finish with 6-182.
Sams was the chief destroyer for the Thunder, smashing four sixes and two fours to remain unbeaten on 36 from 15 balls.
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MATCH CENTRE: Heat v Thunder scorecard and stats
“He got his role right tonight, Sams,” Fox Cricket’s Brad Haddin said.
“His biggest strength is his brute power. Tonight he gave himself a solid base and muscled the ball to the boundary. It was great power hitting.”
Heat paceman James Bazley was clearly the pick of the Brisbane bowlers, finishing with 4-22.
Star spinner Swepson was hopeful of pushing his case for a Test re-call but suffered a rolled ankle while warming up with teammates and limped from Metricon Stadium.
Brisbane’s decision to bowl first has paid early dividends, restricting the Thunder to 1-34 from their first six overs. Alex Hales was caught after playing a “weird shot”, according to Fox Cricket’s Brad Haddin, picking out point after a tennis serve-style stroke.
Swepson then came on to bowl the 10th over. Despite looking “ginger”, according to Fox Cricket’s Brendon Julian, Swepson conceded just six runs off his first over.
Rilee Rossouw joined Matthew Gilkes combined for 57 runs for the second-wicket partnership, but both struggled for rhythm, meaning they didn’t score at a rapid rate. Rossouw was then caught by Matt Kuhnemann off James Bazley for 39 before Gilkes was caught by Max Bryan off Kuhnemann for 35 to leave the Thunder 3-96.
The fact Rossouw and Gilkes didn’t take the power surge left Aussie legend Brett Lee flabbergasted.
“It’s a waste,” Lee told Fox Cricket.
“I think sometimes they have it on a laptop and say ‘we’ll take it at the 14th or 15th over’. That’s all well and good, but you’ve got to assess the conditions in the match, like who’s in, what’s happening out there in the middle.”
Ollie Davies then produced an almighty heave off Ross Whiteley and over the long-on boundary for six, with a fan’s crowd catch attempt almost ending in disaster as he collided with the grandstand seats hard.
Davies and Alex Ross then took the power surge and thrived, smashing 26 runs from the first eight deliveries before Michael Neser had Davies caught at mid-on.
But Sams picked up from where Davies left off, smashing two enormous sixes and a boundary in a 21-run over off Swepson, who seemed to be struggling in the greasy conditions.
“I’m not so sure he’s gripping this, or if it’s his ankle,” Julian said. Lee added the ball for Swepson would feel like gripping “a cake of soap”.
Sams then took a liking to Mark Steketee, smashing two more sixes and another boundary.
“He’s all over them … he’s put the pressure right back on the Brisbane Heat,” Julian said.
But Bazley bowled a disciplined final over, taking the wickets of Ross and Nathan McAndrew in consecutive deliveries to ensure the Heat wouldn’t push their total beyond 181.
The Thunder then continued their momentum with the ball, with Max Bryant out in the first over of the innings for just four before Matt Renshaw went for a duck thanks to a sharp catch by Chris Green off Sams’ bowling.
Renshaw initially held his ground after Green grasped the ball, before Green put his finger up to signal out and pointed to the Heat dressing room in a cheeky suggestion of where Renshaw would be heading.
“Ooh got to be careful there,” Haddin said.
“I like his confidence Chris Green, but …”
Lee quickly added: “They’re not robots … that’s fine.
Kiwi international Colin Munro got going for the Heat late in the powerplay, smashing four fours and two sixes in a stunning two-over period.
“He’s playing on a different surface to all the other Heat batsmen tonight,” Haddin said of Munro.
But bowler Green and keeper Gilkes then combined superbly, with Green deceiving Sam Billing in mid-air and allowing Gilkes to pull off a stunning stumping.
“This was outstanding keeping by Gilkes … that’s bounced a lot, he’s take it at shoulder height … as keepers those are the ones you want,” Haddin said.
Gilkes’ epic night with the gloves continued a few overs later, pulling off a stunning one-handed diving catch to dismiss opposing keeper Jimmy Peirson off McAndrew’s bowling.
“What a night he’s having behind the stumps,” Haddin said.
“He’s moved beautifully, right pace, what a dive, he’s rolled beautifully – take a bow!”
Munro though continued to pile on the runs despite wickets falling around him, passing 50 off 26 balls.
“That’s as good a 50 as you’ll see with carnage all around him. He’s barely mistimed a ball,” Haddin said.
Munro then found support from Bazley, who made 29 off 24 balls to help the Heat to 5-150. But Thunder spinner Usman Qadir pulled out a terrific quicker deliver to trap Bazley in front LBW.
The match gets underway from the Gold Coast at 6.05pm (AEDT).
You can watch it live on Fox Cricket (Channel 501) from 5.30pm.
Heat XI: Max Bryant, Colin Munro, Matthew Renshaw, Sam Billings, Jimmy Peirson (c, wk), Ross Whiteley, Michael Neser, James Bazley, Mark Steketee, Matt Kuhnemann, Mitch Swepson
Thunder XI: Alex Hales, Matthew Gilkes (wk), Rilee Rossouw, Oliver Davies, Daniel Sams, Alex Ross, Nathan McAndrew, Chris Green (c), Gurinder Sandhu, Brendan Doggett, Usman Qadir
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