Melbourne Renegades 2 for 145 (Harper 56*, Cooper 36*) beat Brisbane Heat 8 for 144 (McCullum 50, Shinwari 3-16, Boyce 2-17) by eight wickets
Melbourne Renegades administered a hiding to Brisbane Heat at a subdued Gabba, set on their path by excellent spells from Cameron Boyce and Usman Shinwari before Marcus Harris, Sam Harper and Tom Cooper shepherded the chase.
The Heat were unable to build any momentum at the crease despite a long innings by Brendon McCullum, as Boyce found useful assistance from the surface and Shinwari shrugged off being struck for one telling six by Max Bryant to concede only 10 more runs from his four overs.
After Harris gave the Renegades a usefully rapid-fire start, Harper and Cooper needed only to keep their heads, something they did with the help of dropped catches by the Heat, who now find themselves in some danger of missing out on the BBL finals.
Boyce trumps McCullum
Sent in to bat, the Heat might have expected a rapid start on what looked a good and pacy pitch, but save for one box office drive over long-on by Bryant, their early overs were characterised by a struggle for timing and poise against diligent Renegades bowling. This all added up to that most rare of spectacles - a slow (for him) innings by McCullum.
After Bryant departed and Chris Lynn was unable to get himself going, McCullum seemed to have set himself to bat through the innings, but was unable to impose himself upon the former Queensland spin bowler Boyce, whose legbreaks were also once favoured by Australia's Twenty20 set-up. Gaining useful turn and bounce from the Gabba surface, Boyce coaxed numerous miscues before removing McCullum when the Heat opener picked out deep midwicket with an attempted slog sweep.
Having already deceived Lynn, Boyce could be more than content with a return of 2 for 17 from four overs, playing a major role in limiting the horizons of the Heat innings.
Cutting's catchup exercise
Over recent seasons the Heat have had a couple of familiar threats for opponents, the "bash brothers" McCullum and Lynn up the top and then the heavy hitting of Ben Cutting in the lower middle order. While Cutting's first ball from Boyce left him groping in the manner of McCullum before him, the tall allrounder was able to size up Joe Mennie and seemed capable of driving Brisbane into the 160s when he took 13 runs from the first five balls of the 18th over.
However, Mennie was able to provoke a skywards pull shot from a wide, short delivery, and after Beau Webster held on in similar fashion to the catch he took to dismiss McCullum, the Heat innings petered out. Shinwari, on the receiving end of Bryant's big driven six, completed an otherwise exemplary spell worth 3 for 16, while the recalled Test batsmen Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns could cobble a mere 10 off 10 balls between them.
Harris goes after Pattinson
It was the Renegades who drew first blood, literally, when a Harris skier off James Pattinson burst through the hands of Cutting and he walked off for treatment to a bloody nose. There was some debate over whether Cutting had actually controlled the ball after it struck his nose and he fell to the ground, before the umpires eventually ruled it a non-catch.
More definitive was Harris' treatment of Pattinson in his second over. A full toss scythed through cover, a length ball heaved over wide mid-on, another length ball inside edged past the stumps to the boundary then an extraordinary launch inside out over cover for six made the over worth 19 and gave the Renegades a swift start to ease pressure on the rest of the batting order. Harris would only get as far as 28, but he had made his presence felt.
Harper, Cooper keep composed
The value of Harris' early acceleration was to be underlined by the way that Harper and Cooper were able to calmly close in on their target, even though at one point they allowed 20 balls to elapse without a boundary off the bat. Cooper had not previously passed 16 in six innings, and he was to be dropped twice in getting as far as 20. Harper was rather more fluent, teasing the Heat captain Lynn in his efforts to plug gaps.
By their union, and the Heat's obliging fielding, the Renegades were able to gallop to their target with no fewer than 26 balls to spare, going up to four wins while also improving their net run rate appreciably. The Heat, meanwhile, were left two games out of the BBL top four.