Bash Brothers sink Stars with MCG fireworks
CRICKET: Brisban'e Bash Brothers brought the Melbourne Stars to their knees and woke MCG fans from their Boxing Day slumber with a late-exploding New Year's fireworks display.
Captain Brendon McCullum (61 off 29) promoted his Bash Brother Chris Lynn (63 off 46) to open the Brisbane Heat innings and it appears the union will live on at the top of the order after they sentenced the winless, big-named yet underachieving Stars to their third successive loss.
Lynn and McCullum tore off 101 for the first wicket off 64 balls and by the time they were parted the Stars were actually seeing stars.
Brilliantly served by their leg-spinners Mitchell Swepson and Yasir Shah, the Heat (1-144) roared to victory against the Stars (7-141) off just 14.4 overs, their third win in five matches and one of their best ever.
By coincidence, it followed one of their worst losses in Adelaide.
From the moment he threaded the infield with his first four, which whizzed to the mid-wicket fence with barely a spent calorie of effort, McCullum was in blistering form and the dominant man in the partnership.
Lynn is still setting his radar after a lengthy injury setback and, early on, struggled to gain optimum timing on a deck in which most batsmen bar McCullum felt out of synch.
Lynn almost scored his second duck in as many innings when he spanked James Faulkner to John Hastings at mid-off who juggled it as if it was a hot coal before grassing it at his fourth attempt.
But the longer Lynn batted the better he looked and by the end of his innings the tiger within was snapping at the leash, even though he claimed his innings "was not pretty''.
The Heat's victory, which will provide a substantial and much-needed boost to their run rate, was a matter of unleashing the silk and the sledgehammers.
As Brisbane blazed away it seemed a different ground from the slow-coached Ashes Test match at the same venue that put a nation of cricket fans to sleep.
Leg-spinners Shah (1-16) and particularly Swepson (3-14) mesmerised the Stars top order with their clever wrist spin and they were as much a part of the victory as the Bash Brothers, perhaps even more significant.
To take 4-30 off eight overs between them was rousing work. Anything less than a Heat win after that effort would have been an unfair result for the Heats' tweaking twins.
No one could collar them. Even Glenn Maxwell, who broke free late once the leg-spinners were gone, looked as if he was batting with an unchalked pool cue when the slow men were on.
Leg-spinners have taken 25 wickets in the competition and have become the key match-shaping forces in a trend few could have predicted when this form of cricket was born.
The Stars did not clear the fence until a brutal straight hit from Maxwell in the 17th over and it was their only six of the night.
Keeper Jimmy Peirson bucked the Heats' recent trend of slipshod fielding when he smartly stumped Luke Wright off Swepson, continuing the batsman's sorrowful record against leg-spin.
Swepson had bowled solidly without taking a wicket in the tournament but struck again when Brisbane-hating superstar Kevin Pietersen swashed a quicker ball to deep mid-on.
The most dramatic moment of the Stars innings came when Ben Cutting, barely used as a bowler this tournament, knocked John Hastings' helmet off with a pinpoint bouncer.