The Sydney Thunder's win over the Brisbane Heat in the BBL on Thursday night has been overshadowed by controversy. Heat opener Colin Munro blasted a brilliant 98, however he fell agonisingly short of triple figures and dragging his side over the line.
Just two days after beating Brisbane by 10 wickets, the Thunder were victorious again at Metricon Stadium, winning by 11 runs despite Munro's heroics. With the heat needing 13 runs off the final five balls, Munro holed out in the deep to a brilliant catch by Daniel Sams.
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The opener's dismissal ended the Heat's chances as the Thunder held on for victory after posting 6-182 while batting first. However Munro's dismissal proved highly controversial as it came about after the umpires made the extraordinary decision to change the ball in the final over.
Thunder players had complained that the ball was too wet, leading the officials to bring out a new one. Just one delivery later Munro's innings ended.
“You can’t change a ball now, I’m sorry. I know it’s hard for the bowlers, but you’ve played 19.1 overs (with it),” Brett Lee said on Fox Cricket. “I’m not convinced about the ball change – not in the last over.
“Very good from (bowler Nathan) McAndrew. Definitely helps though with a ball you can hold onto … I don’t think it’s right."
Fans were also left fuming over the umpires' decision to change the ball.
Colin Munro shattered after agonising loss in BBL
Although Munro fell agonisingly short of his maiden century in the BBL, he was more disappointed with the result. "Just gutted that we couldn't get across the line," he said.
The win came at a cost for the Thunder after strike bowler Gurinder Sandhu sustained a left calf strain bowling the first ball of the Heat innings. He is now in doubt for the match with Hobart Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Heat had slumped to 2-14 in the second over, but Munro ensured the Heat kept going at a good rate with spectacular hitting as wickets tumbled around him. Munro smacked three sixes and nine fours in a lone hand for the Heat, going at a strike rate of 185 in his 53-ball knock.
"I just kept telling myself to be brave, even if we lost a couple of wickets, be brave and keep playing the situation and stay positive in my frame of mind," he said. "My last couple of innings I've been a little bit subdued and playing a little bit too much the wickets and the scoreboard so today I just took the scoreboard out of it and tried to play each ball as well as I could."
James Bazley (29 off 24 balls) was the only Heat batter who provided meaningful support to Munro, combining for a 48-run sixth-wicket partnership. Thunder spinners Chris Green (1-20 from four overs) and Usman Qadir (1-30 from four) put the brakes on the Heat's innings between the 13th and 16th overs, with the required run rate exceeding 12.5 an over.
When Qadir trapped Bazley plumb lbw with 16 balls to go, the Heat's assignment became very difficult. Munro dragged them back into the contest but his dismissal off the bowling of McAndrew (4-32 off four) ended their fight.
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