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Heat soar to the top as Stars fall

Cricket

Test hopeful Mitchell Swepson has spun the Brisbane Heat to a seven-wicket win over the Melbourne Stars and into the BBL finals.

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Swepson’s 2-14 helped restrict the Stars to 7-138 before the Heat reached their target with 11 balls to spare at the MCG last night.

After a slow start to his innings, Joe Burns smacked three sixes on his way to an unbeaten 42, while Alex Ross top-scored with 46 not out.

The win leaves the Heat on top of the BBL ladder and well-placed to secure a home semi-final with a game remaining.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Stars got off to an awful start.

Heat paceman Mark Steketee bowled Rob Quiney with the first ball of the innings and trapped Kevin Pietersen LBW for a golden duck with the next.

Stars debutant Seb Gotch survived the hat-trick ball and made a handy 30, helped by some dreadful Heat fielding.

His knock came to an end when Swepson bowled him with a lovely wrong ‘un before also bowling allrounder Marcus Stoinis with the next ball.

The legspinner’s impressive performance earned lofty praise from sidelined Heat captain Brendon McCullum, who was slapped with a one-game suspension for his side’s slow over rate during their loss to the Perth Scorchers.

“He’s shown tonight he’s been able to take that selection, go there and still perform,” McCullum said.

“We are delighted for him. He’s a huge player for us. Probably our most important bowler at this point in time as well.”

Opener Luke Wright (60 not out) was the standout batsman for the Stars, surviving the 20 overs and reaching his half-century with a six.

The Stars will go into their final game against the Sydney Sixers at the MCG on Saturday without Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb, James Faulkner, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa, all of whom will be on Australian ODI duties.

“You want your best players to be playing for Australia but unfortunately you don’t want them to miss games for us,” Wright said.

“As far as I know, if we win Saturday it’s still a home semi-final so it’s certainly not doom and gloom.”

The Heat will have McCullum back for their final game against the Melbourne Renegades at the Gabba on Friday, with spinner Samuel Badree also a good chance to return from injury.

Describing a potential home semi-final as hugely important, Heat batsman Burns said Swepson had shown he had a good head on his shoulders to go with his spinning ability.

“He walked out with the pressure of being selected in the Australian squad and playing at the MCG against some world-class players of spin,” Burns said.

“To perform the way he did, I think speaks volumes.”

-AAP

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