Hardie hammers Heat as Scorchers surge into first, Murphy stalking Lyon, Kiwis Kane Pakistan

Aaron Hardie has reminded Australian selectors of his status as the next all-rounder in waiting for higher honors by steering Perth to a comfortable win over Brisbane in the BBL on Wednesday night.

Brisbane debuted their latest hidden gem but couldn’t stop Hardie and keeper Josh Inglis from cruising to the top of the Big Bash League ladder.

The Scorchers chased down the Heat’s 6-155 with eight wickets and 22 balls remaining at the Gabba on Wednesday night, their seventh win from nine starts.

The loss leaves the Heat flailing, three wins outside the top-five with just five games to play.

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Inglis scored 67 off 35 balls, sharing in a 132-run stand with Hardie (65 off 45), the pair unbeaten and untroubled after coming together with work to do at 2-25 in the fourth over.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 11: Aaron Hardie of the Scorchers plays a shot during the Men's Big Bash League match between the Brisbane Heat and the Perth Scorchers at The Gabba, on January 11, 2023, in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Aaron Hardie. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jason Behrendorff (3-21) did the first-innings damage for the visitors, named man of the match after running through the Heat’s Test-bolstered batting order to pick up his 100th BBL scalp in the process.

The Heat were in the contest early, left-arm quick Spencer Johnson (0-22 off 3.2 overs) impressive on debut with his pace and bounce almost unplayable.

“He swings the ball up front and that’s gold in T20; he’s always on the money and takes wickets in the power play,” Inglis said of Behrendorff.

“And he (Johnson) was actually quite tough to pick up his length, with a bit of a delay in his action, was getting on quicker than we expected.”

The game turned when Usman Khawaja, captaining on his Heat debut after an off-season move from the Sydney Thunder, replaced Johnson with Marnus Labuschagne.

The legspinner was taken for 20 in his only over as Inglis and Hardie cashed in on some loose deliveries and poor fielding.

“Yeah they did,” Inglis said when asked if his eyes lit up at the sight of Labuschagne’s first loose ball. “But after the first one I made sure I switched on. I know how much Marn loves his bowling; I’d never hear the end of it if he got me out.”

South Australian Johnson, 27, struggled with a serious ankle injury in his early 20s and played three one-dayers for the Redbacks as early as 2017.

But he revived his career with a move to Brisbane last year.

Like fellow Heat surprise packet Josh Brown, he impressed in Brisbane’s T20 competition to force his way into the BBL squad, finally earning a debut after the Heat left out regulars Mitchell Swepson and Mark Steketee.

Khawaja called on Johnson to bowl the power surge but by then Inglis and Hardie were flying, the latter finishing the chase with a powerful six over mid-on.

Earlier Behrendorff had the Heat’s measure, Inglis dropping a tough chance off Khawaja before the Scorchers veteran dismissed Brown (18), Labuschagne (10) and Matt Renshaw (28) just as they were threatening to break free.

He bowled during the power surge that backfired on the hosts, who lost 2-11 in those two overs, before Max Bryant (36 off 27) finished well.

Murphy to sound out Lyon, O’Keefe

Todd Murphy will spend the next month leaning on Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe as he prepares to embark on his maiden Test tour in India.

Murphy became the only uncapped member of Australia’s squad when the 18-man group was named on Wednesday, as one of four spinners.

The 22-year-old comes into the squad off the back of seven first-class matches, three more than when Lyon made his debut in Sri Lanka in 2011.

Lyon and O’Keefe each took 19 wickets in the 2017 tour of India, as Australia routinely played two spinners and were narrowly beaten 2-1 in the series.

O’Keefe, Lyon and Murphy will spend the next three weeks playing together for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL, before the latter two head to India at the end of the month.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 24: Todd Murphy of the Prime Ministers XI bowls during the tour match between the Prime Ministers XI and the West Indies at Manuka Oval on November 24, 2022 in Canberra, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Todd Murphy. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I’ll try and have as many conversations as I can with (Lyon) and get as much out of those guys who have been there before as possible,” Murphy said.

“(O’Keefe) at the Sixers, just to be able to speak about his experiences in India when he went there.

“It will be really good to set me up over there.”

Murphy first spent time working with Lyon in the Sheffield Shield bubble in Adelaide two years ago, when former international Nic Maddinson approached the Test spinner to bowl with the youngster.

It is possible they will be paired together in India next month, be it as tweaker twins or in a three-pronged spin attack alongside Ashton Agar or Mitchell Swepson.

“There’s no secret that I’m very impressed by Todd Murphy,” Lyon said last month. “I have done a lot of work with Todd, been around the Sixers with him. He’s definitely put his hand up. I first bowled with him two years ago in the Shield bubble … He’s got the skillset there.

“It’s just about him learning the craft tactically and mentally and really honing in on that skillset of bowling an unbelievable stock ball.”

Victorian Murphy toured Sri Lanka last year in the Australia A squad and as a reserve for the Test team, before a brief stint in a national academy in India last year.

“That’s going to hold me in good stead,” Murphy said.

“Here, you trust your overspun ball, and try and use the bounce to advantage.

“Over there, spin comes into it more. So changing around seam position and being open to change the way you bowl mid-game to suit the conditions.”

Kiwis Kane Pakistan in Karachi

Devon Conway and Kane Williamson have put Pakistan’s attack to the sword as their 181-run partnership proved the basis for New Zealand’s ODI series-tying win by 79 runs in the day-nighter against Pakistan.

Conway cracked a brilliant 101 off 92 balls and captain Williamson 85 off 100 in Karachi on Wednesday as their second-wicket stand provided the basis of the visitors’ total of 261, which Pakistan never threatened despite 79 from captain Babar Azam.

After Tim Southee (2-33) and Lockie Ferguson (1-31) made early inroads into Pakistan’s chase, the New Zealand spin quartet effectively strangled the hosts, who were bowled out for 182 off 43 overs, leaving the series, locked at 1 -1, to be decided in Friday’s third match.

Babar provided Pakistan with most hope in his 114-ball knock but couldn’t keep up the required asking rate.

Mitchell Santner took 1-34 off 10 overs and Michael Bracewell proved the most economical New Zealand bowler with 1-29 off his full allocation.

Ish Sodhi, returning to the side in place of paceman Henry Shipley, bowled into the pitch and often drew mis-hits from Pakistan’s batters as he took 2-38 off eight overs, with the legspinner bagging the key scalp of Babar, the second- last home blink to be dismissed.

“We had Ish Sodhi, who has been bowling really well,” Williamson said.

“We knew it would be a tough chase. We knew we had to get little bit out of the surface … and got to a total par in the end.”

Glenn Phillips (1-13 off two overs), a reluctant wicketkeeper because of a back condition, added to New Zealand’s spin stocks in an ODI World Cup year, trapping Haris Sohail lbw, with the Kiwi spinners enjoying combined figures of 30-0- 114-5.

“When the spinners came on, it was turning sharply,” Babar said. “The pitch in Karachi is always better in the second innings, but played differently today and the spinners were getting a lot more help.”

Earlier, after opting to bat, New Zealand failed to capitalize fully on the excellent stand between Conway and Williamson, as Mohammad Nawaz took 4-38 but failed to hold on to a difficult return catch when Conway was on 29.

Williamson was also twice dropped in the space of Mohammad Wasim’s four deliveries soon after he completed his half century.

First, Haris Sohail couldn’t hold on to a sharp catch over his head at short midwicket and then Mohammad Rizwan dropped a low catch down the leg side after the ball brushed Williamson’s gloves.

It enabled the batters to go past New Zealand’s previous best second-wicket stand of 159 against Pakistan in an ODI, shared between Williamson and Martin Guptill at Auckland in 2016.

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