A combination of Poonam Yadav with the ball and Georgia Redmayne with the bat has seen the Brisbane Heat continue their push for a fourth straight WBBL finals.
After falling to the top of the table Melbourne Renegades on Saturday in a high scoring festival of power hitting, the pressure was on to keep their footing in a tight top four race.
Georgia Prestwidge’s opening over didn’t get the Heat off to the start they were looking for, giving up 13 runs and three wides as the new ball swung early. It didn’t take long for the first wicket to fall though, with Grace Harris bowling Tahlia Wilson 4 (8) with a Yadav catch.
Phoebe Litchfield and Smriti Mandhana continued to cause headaches for the Heat bowling attack however, and it wasn’t until Yadav’s first bowling over where the momentum began to change.
She would quickly claim the wickets of Mandhana and Corinne Hall back-to-back, swinging the tide of the game back in the Heat’s favour.
“We were probably in a little bit of trouble early on, we hadn’t bowled exactly how we would have liked to in the first seven overs or so,” Redmayne told The Inner Sanctum post match.
“I think Mandhana and Litchfield were quite on top of us at that point. [Yadav] coming into the attack and getting that big wicket of Mandhana in her first over and then following it up with another one after… definitely shows the class of an international bowler.
“She bowled exceptionally well and was really economical too. I think she turned the tide of the game for us, and made us finish our fielding innings off quite well.”
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After the Thunder sat at 1/51 after the powerplay, Yadav’s four overs noticeably shifted the momentum towards the Heat.
The top order batters had run amok, going into the drinks break 3/82, eyeing off a strong 160 total. When Charli Knott dismissed Deepti Sharma with her first ball just seven deliveries later, followed by Yadav claiming Litchfield 40 (32) in the 13th over, it was all but over.
“It really [lifted] the spirits of the team,” Redmayne continued.
“We probably weren’t… [feeling] the highest after that handful of overs or so. It’s a T20 game… there’s momentum swings all the time, and that was a huge one for us when she came onto bowl.
“I think every over [Yadav] bowled… she was a huge influence.”
From there it was slow goings for the Thunder, setting a total of 143 for the Heat to chase down.
After failing to catch the Renegades 207 on Saturday but still putting up 192 runs of their own, the Heat top order was confident. Their worst total for the season came in an absolute aberration against the Melbourne Stars, managing just 9/95.
Redmayne got to work early, finishing with 57 (45) at a strike rate of 126.67. She continued to face deliveries all the way into the death overs, where her wicket was finally taken by Sharma.
Though the game was all but won by that point, with only 22 runs left to chase, Redmayne was still frustrated that she couldn’t see her innings out.
This came after a spell in the middle of her batting overs where she could only seem to manage to take the singles, finishing with seven boundaries overall.
“I think I just felt like I was hitting the fielders a lot on the boundary, and probably wasn’t getting the rope as much as I would have liked,” Redmayne said.
“Just working in partnerships [though], I think the way Georgia Voll batted and bowled when she came in as well, we worked in that partnership really well. We applied the pressure when we needed to put the foot down there and increased the run rate to really get on top of them.
“We timed that pretty well, but I would have liked to stay out there for the end. You don’t want anyone else to have to do the finishing job for you.”
The task ahead
Brisbane won’t have much time to think and reflect after the victory, with a vital match-up against the third-placed Sydney Sixers on Tuesday.
The two sides meet for the first time this year at Karen Rolton Oval, which has hosted a wicket and outfield heavily favouring the batters in recent games.
They couldn’t be facing a Sixers side in much better form, coming off a 31 run victory over the Hobart Hurricanes and a 44 run smashing of the Perth Scorchers.
While Alyssa Healy – 94* (51) – and Ash Gardner – 51 (49) – have impressed in recent matches, it’s the bowling attack that the Heat may have to worry about.
The Sixers kept both of their opponents to totals under 120 in their past two matches, while also keeping the hard-hitting Renegades to just 120 in their match up.
Redmayne is confident in how the batting group matches up against the likes of Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle and Radha Yadav.
“I think we won’t change too much how we play,” Redmayne said.
“We like to go in and be aggressive, and back all 11 of our players to go out there and score runs quickly. We like to put the pressure on the opposition early and carry that on through the whole 20 overs rather than just the last four or five.
“I think that’s something great about our team, is that we’ve got quality players all the way down the line up. You can see that in the way that we bat… we trust anyone to come in and do the job.”
Additionally to that comes a great sense of rivalry between the two sides after some tense past encounters.
The pair met in what can only be described as a ‘classic’ final in WBBL|04, with the Heat running out three wicket winners with just four balls to go in front of a sold out crowd.
It’s a match which still lives fondly in Redmayne’s memory, and she’s hoping it’ll fire up the squad come Tuesday.
“[I’m] really looking forward to it, there’s probably always a little bit of a rivalry with the Sixers and the Heat since that grand final,” she said.
“Really excited to play them. Every year they’re always a world class team, so really excited to take them on. They’ve shown that they’re not unbeatable.”
A second vs third clash awaits at Karen Rolton Oval on Tuesday, November 9 with the first ball bowled at 2:35pm AEDT.
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