Heat put in another shocker as season falls apart
THE return of Australian cricket's golden child Marnus Labuschagne was not enough to save the Brisbane Heat as Steve Smith's Sydney Sixers racked up an eight-wicket win at the Gabba.
Another trademark batting collapse crippled the Heat once again to leave Brisbane's Big Bash finals chances hanging by a thread.
The Sixers chased down Brisbane's paltry total of 8-126 with ease, cruising to 2-127 in 15.5 overs to send the Heat into the dreaded "mathematical chance" scenario of playing finals.
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With the scars of last Sunday's record collapse against the Renegades still raw, the Heat were at one point 4-38 and never recovered.
It said a lot about the Heat's performance that the biggest cheer of the night from the 26,327 at the Gabba came when they limped past 100.
A pitch invader late in the contest also drew a raucous cheer after he sent chasing security guards tumbling.
The Heat were hoping for an improved performance following the Renegades debacle, but didn't produce.
Playing his first game of the tournament following a remarkable Test summer, Labuschagne fell for three from eight balls after replacing Test teammate Joe Burns.
His Brisbane teammates didn't do much better, Test quick James Pattinson top-scoring for the Heat with 27 from 15 balls late in the innings.
As if the news wasn't bad enough for the Heat, they will now travel to Melbourne to face the ladder-leading Stars at the MCG on Saturday.
The Heat must beat the Stars and then the Melbourne Renegades on Monday to have a chance of making the finals.
A loss to the Stars will nearly certainly end their chances of featuring in the revamped play-offs.
After being sent in to bat, Heat captain Chris Lynn's turbulent summer continued when he fell for seven in the third over and from there Brisbane struggled to recover.
Matt Renshaw (12), Sam Heazlett (15) and Labuschagne (3) fell in quick succession to leave the Heat reeling at 4-38 in the seventh over.
South African star AB De Villiers compiled a steady 25 from 26 balls before holing out in the deep when he tried to take it up a gear in the 17th over.
Some late big-hitting from Pattinson helped the Heat bat out their 20 overs, but 8-126 was never going to be enough.
Sixers opener James Vince took off with 51 from 37 and Josh Philippe (52 not out) also got in on the action.
Smith (9) edged behind in his first Big Bash game since 2014 but it was little solace for the Heat as Sydney moved back into second spot.