Brisbane Heat 163 for 4 (Renshaw 49*, Billings 40, Mujeeb 2-27) beat Melbourne Renegades 162 for 8 (Fraser-McGurk 55, Wells 34*, Walter 3-27) by six wickets
After Heat elected to bowl on a slow surface, Fraser-McGurk hammered seven sixes in his 55 off 23 balls but Renegades were pegged back by English import Walter, who claimed 3 for 27 off four overs.
Renegades’ total seemed imposing when Heat slumped to 45 for 3 before Matthew Renshaw and Sam Billings combined for a 72-run partnership. Fittingly, Walter finished the job with superb late hitting to finish with 30 off 15 balls as unbeaten Heat crossed the line with 11 balls to spare.
Renegades, however, are winless and will be disappointed not to have capitalised on Fraser-McGurk’s early fireworks.
The first half of Renegades’ innings was completely dominated by Fraser-McGurk, who came to the crease after opener Quinton de Kock fell in the second over to left-arm quick Spencer Johnson for a seven-ball duck.
Having failed to unlock his prodigious gifts before this domestic season, Fraser-McGurk is fast becoming a drawcard having just two months ago entered the record books for the fastest ever List A century. His breakout season has also included a maiden First-Class century underlining his huge potential across formats.
Fraser-McGurk had no trouble countering the sharp bounce of Johnson, who was playing his first match since being purchased by Gujarat Titans for AU$1.78million.
He hammered 22 off his first six deliveries, which included three sixes in a clean-striking aerial assault. While Renegades’ top-order struggled for fluency on a sluggish surface, Fraser-McGurk appeared to be batting on a different pitch and he handled seamer Michael Neser with disdain by sweeping him for six.
Heat stand-in captain Colin Munro turned to left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann who was smoked second ball for six over midwicket by Fraser-McGurk. No bowler was spared from the carnage with legspinner Mitchell Swepson pummelled over deep midwicket as Fraser-McGurk reached his half-century off just 21 balls.
His whirlwind knock was being lapped up by not only the Renegades faithful, but Australia’s World Cup hero Glenn Maxwell who gushed about Fraser-McGurk on social media.
But Fraser-McGurk holed out before drinks off Walter’s first delivery and Renegades predictably slowed considerably. Walter, who was a surprise selection by Heat in the BBL draft, continued his strong start to the season by bowling clever slow shorter deliveries that proved hard to score off.
He also claimed the pivotal wickets of veteran Aaron Finch and Will Sutherland, who is key at the death for Renegades, as Heat recovered well from Fraser-McGurk’s hot start.
Bu Heat couldn’t quite finish the job with Jono Wells enjoying a late flurry, including a last-ball boundary off Johnson who finished with 1 for 39 off four overs.
Heat got off to a fast start in their chase through openers Josh Brown and Munro, who smashed seamer Tom Rogers for a first-ball six to cap a 15-run opening over.
But Afghanistan offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman came into the attack in the second over in an inspired move. Munro tried to counter by moving his stance well across the stumps but it backfired and he was dismissed lbw after Mujeeb successfully reviewed.
Brown holed out to quick Kane Richardson’s first delivery and Heat were in trouble when Nathan McSweeney spooned a return catch to Mujeeb.
Batting appeared tough as Heat’s run rate creeped up, but Renshaw made his move in the eighth over with consecutive boundaries off spinner Nic Maddinson.
Renshaw found good rhythm with Billings as the pair played smartly by nudging the ball around in a constant rotation of the strike. Occasionally they would go for broke like when Billings whacked Sutherland for a huge six in the 12th over to bring up the half-century partnership.
Heat appeared to be cruising until Maddinson desperately turned to legspinner Adam Zampa, who gave Renegades hope by dismissing Billings for 40 in the 14th over.
But Heat timed the power surge perfectly with Walter pummelling Richardson for 20 runs in a game-changing 17th over.
Walter’s purple patch continued with a stunning straight six off Zampa as Heat soon clinched their third straight victory to start the season.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth