Neser knock sees Heat pull off stunning Sixers upset

UNLIKELY chase catalyst Michael Neser has guided the Brisbane Heat to a stunning upset of the Sydney Sixers, and into the BBL|12 final. The bowling allrounder struck an unbeaten 48 (32) at the SCG last night to silence the magenta clad crowd, surpassing a measly target of 116 with 10 balls to spare and securing his side’s spot in Saturday’s decider against the Perth Scorchers.

On a slow deck in Sydney, the experienced home side looked like pulling through when Brisbane fell to 6-86. Though, no one told Neser that. Despite losing Max Bryant (11) in the first over of the power surge, he blasted Hayden Kerr for four consecutive boundaries in the 16th over to spark a match-winning burst of 24 runs in eight deliveries.

Up until that point, it was the Sixers who had won most of the pressure moments. Instances like Sam Heazlett‘s careless runout, Steven O’Keefe‘s removal of Jimmy Peirson before the halfway mark, and Bryant’s downfall all began to shift the momentum in Sydney’s favour. Ben Dwarshuis provided somewhat of a golden touch too, involved in three key wickets via every fielding method.

But with little to defend and Neser turning the screw, only a handful of runs were left for the Heat to conjure off the final two overs, and spearhead Sean Abbott (1-13) was already bowled out. It made for a bittersweet night for the likes of O’Keefe and Dan Christian, as the former played his 100th game for the Sixers and the latter set off into retirement.

The context of Brisbane’s unlikely victory was incredible. Sydney came in having won its last eight games at the SCG, and while Steve Smith a notable loss, the Sixers remained roaring fancies. What’s more, the Heat went in without a trio of Test stars – captain Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, and Matt Renshaw – who all proved key to their finals success to that point.

Nonetheless, Brisbane was the only side Sydney was yet to beat in BBL|12, and the Heat had already knocked off the Sixers without their aforementioned Test trio. The twice-capped Neser (2-28) remained and helped put together a restrictive bowling effort, which saw the Sixers’ deep batting lineup tested.

Most batters achieved starts, but usual innings saviours Moises Henriques (4) and Jordan Silk (10) were in and out early as constant wickets proved the Sixers’ downfall. Pace revelation Spencer Johnson (3-28) and tweaker Matt Kuhnemann (3-17) got the job done, while inclusion Nathan McSweeney (1-21) nabbed his maiden BBL wicket in an surprisingly useful set of four overs.

Izharulhuq Naveed finished with figures of 2-28 to be the Sixers’ most prolific bowler, though Abbott proved the pick of the bunch. Having been a top two side all season, Sydney fell at the final hurdle, while Brisbane rose from bottom spot to win seven of their last eight games and earn the chance to clinch its second BBL title on Saturday.


RESULT: Brisbane Heat (6-117) def. Sydney Sixers (9-116) by 4 wickets.
POTM: Michael Neser (Brisbane Heat)
TOSS: Sydney Sixers won the toss and elected to bat


Sydney Sixers:
Daniel Hughes 23 (24), Kurtis Patterson 19 (14), Josh Philippe 16 (16)
Izharulhuq Naveed 2-28, Sean Abbott 1-13, Ben Dwarshuis 1-20 (3.2)

Brisbane Heat:
Michael Neser 48* (32), Josh Brown 20 (18), Sam Heazlett 13 (13)
Matt Kuhnemann 3-17, Spencer Johnson 3-28, Michael Neser 2-28


Power Play (1-4)
Sydney Sixers: 1-36
Brisbane Heat: 1-31

Halfway (10)
Sydney Sixers: 3-61
Brisbane Heat: 4-56

Power Surge
Sydney Sixers (17-18): 2-8 (5-90 > 7-98)
Brisbane Heat (15-16): 1-22 (5-81 > 6-103)

Sydney Sixers: 9-116
Brisbane Heat: 6-117

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