Perth Scorchers knock off Brisbane Heat in a huge BBL clash following scintillating spell from the Wild Thing, Lance Morris

The Brisbane Heat will go into the BBL finals as top seeds, but with serious doubts hanging over their batting depth.

The Heat lost their first game of the season, on Saturday in Perth to the Scorchers, unable to chase down 159 runs for victory.

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The Scorchers battled to 158 runs, their score later adjusted to 163 due to the Heat receiving a 5-run penalty for a deliberate short run during their innings.

Replacing top order batters Sam Billings, Colin Munro, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja, who dropped out of the team that beat Perth by 23 runs on Wednesday, looks no easy feat.

Jimmy Pierson, playing his first game of the season, and Josh Brown, got them off to a good start, knocking up 34 runs in the first powerplay.

But too few struggled to get a start in the 41 degree heat.

The Heat were dismissed for 128 in the 20th over, with only Pierson (42), Brown (29) and Max Bryant (29) reaching double figures.

Lance Morris did the early damage for Perth with 3-26, while Andrew Tye claimed 4-14.

Perth is right in the mix to claim a sixth BBL title and a third in consecutive seasons.

Saturdays’ 35-run win over the Heat leaves them in second spot on the table, with one game to play.

The winner of Tuesday’s clash against Perth and the Sydney Sixers will finish in second spot and play the Brisbane Heat in the top-of-the table Qualifier on Friday in Brisbane.

That game against the Sixers is at Optus Stadium, a venue the Scorchers are enjoying a nine-game winning streak on, including five wins this campaign.

The Heat would be sick of Perth middle order batters Nick Hobson and Cooper Connolly.

The pair combined for a heroic unbeaten 41-run partnership in last season’s final against the Heat to claim the title.

On Saturday, the pair were the top two scorers, after the Heat had dismissed dangerous trio Aaron Hardie (9 runs), Josh Inglis (5) and Laurie Evans (26) cheaply.

Connolly, who has played every game this season, hit 35 runs from 25 balls, to settle the ship.

Hobson, playing just his fourth game this campaign and batting for just the second time, smashed 48 from 30 balls, including four big hits over the boundary.

Forgotten former captain Pierson looms as a crucial cog in the Brisbane Heat’s BBL title hopes.

Replacing international wicketkeeper Billings, Pierson played his first game of the season on Saturday against the Scorchers, taking his place behind the stumps.

Pierson also opened the batting and top scored with 42 runs from 41 balls.

Billings and Munro, the two highest run scorers for the Heat in the opening nine games, have left to play in another T20 tournament and Labuschagne and Khawaja are also unavailable due to national team responsibilities.

The loss had no impact on Brisbane Heat ending BBL13 on top of the table, but cost them becoming only the second side to finish a campaign unbeaten.

The Melbourne Stars did it in BBL03, when winning all of their eight qualifying games.

The Stars were bundled out of the finals by the Hobart Hurricanes in a three-finals series that had the minor premier in a knock-out game straight away.

Only four teams have won the title after finishing top of the table, including the Sixers and the Scorchers (twice) in the past three seasons. But that was in a final series that included five teams.

The BBL reverts back to a four-team final series, albeit in a different format to when this last happened.

Michael Neser backed up his man-of-the-match performance in the Heat’s win over Perth on Wednesday.

His 2-21 included opener Sam Whiteman and dangerous captain Aaron Hardie. It was better than his 2-31 earlier in the week.

He also took another spectacular catch, running away from the pitch, towards the boundary, to get rid of Cooper Connolly.

He was unable to back up with the bat though, out for a golden duck, giving Morris a second wicket from consecutive balls. Morris was denied a chance for a hat-trick though, as the Neser wicket was taken on the last ball of his fourth and final over.

Originally published as Hobson cameo, Wild Thing heroics lead Scorchers to BBL victory

Read related topics:BrisbanePerth

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