Khawaja propels Heat into a final he will miss
Khawaja crushed 94 in Sydney on Friday to take his side to Melbourne and then, after being cleared by Cricket Australia to play again, made another 59 as the Heat avoided another late stumble to defeat the Renegades by seven wickets at Marvel Stadium .
Matthew Renshaw, who along with Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne will miss Thursday’s clash with the Sydney Sixers, finished the job as his captain started smashing 27 of 13 balls as the home side thought they had snorted showing the Heat what he was going to miss later this week. .
“Coming into this tournament new team, there was a lot of work to do, we didn’t have a great start,” Khawaja told Fox Cricket after the match.
“All me, Marnus and Renners (Renshaw) did was try to lift the team, lift the atmosphere. It’s quite special.
“I still think we have a lot of depth. We haven’t really done much. I’m sure the guys coming in will be fine.
“It’s going to be a tough question, but the boys can do it.”
Khawaja ruled out any possibility of flaying late in India and joked that his wife would “file for divorce” if he spent more time with the Heat before leaving.
The absence of the trio will be a sweet relief for the national coaches, however, who would have winced at every quick single the batters stretched for in their quest for victory, with Khawaja and Labuschagne feeling hamstring and back to the stages respectively. .
It was a sixth win in seven games for the Heat, who sacrificed a home final with a chokehold in Hobart before demolishing the Thunder and then doing the same with the Renegades in a season-ending flex that will have to continue without their trio star as they chase a first BBL title in 10 years.
After setting up a 74-point opening stand with Josh Brown to put his side in prime position to face the Sydney Sixers on Thursday night, Khawaja carried things on and reminisced about a second straight half-century with a six to help the Heat reel in the home team’s total of 5-162.
The defeat ended the resurgence of the Renegades who had been wooden spoons for the previous two seasons before finishing third, only to exit at the first hurdle of the final.
Only veteran Renegades batsman Shaun Marsh shot for the home side on a big night for the older statesmen.
The 39-year-old smashes nine fours and a six in an unbeaten one-handed 82 for his team before cramping off the pitch, to avoid a potential soft tissue injury, after battling until the exhaustion.
Fast bowler Xavier Bartlett, included as a replacement for Indian spinner Mitch Swepson, was just as important as Khawaja, snatching 3-18 in his first game since January 11.
Marsh, who turns 40 in July, huffed and puffed his way to a brilliant 82 on just 53 balls, struggling to hold on late in his second inning after a calf injury, in another reminder of his superb BBL ability. .
It was feared Marsh wouldn’t return for the final after another soft tissue, but his first innings after 19 days, against Perth last Sunday, was his 23rd half BBL and at Marvel Stadium he made number 24, and his fifth in eight Big Bash finals.
Dropped on the 14th, Marsh particularly punished Heat spinner Matt Kuhnemann, striking out 31 of 14 balls he faced with his left arm.
Marsh is under contract for next season and will be the third 40-year-old to take part in the tournament after spinners Brad Hogg and Fawad Ahmed.
Part of the Renegades’ resurgence this season has been built around the success of their overseas stars, with the exception of one.
While Russell played early and spinners Akeal Hosien and Mujeeb Ur Rahman played key roles in their time in red this season, New Zealand Black Caps veteran Martin Guptill was a flop.
A high score of just 36 in his 11 innings, then dismissed for one in the game that mattered the most.
At 36, the Renegades are unlikely to invite him back next season, with coach Saker having little patience for underperforming imports.