Brisbane Heat 5 for 175 (Burns 52, Denly 50, Sangha 3-40) beat Sydney Thunder 8 for 174 (Hales 46, Sams 37, Mujeeb 2-26, Steketee 2-34) by five wickets
Fifties from Joe Burns and Joe Denly helped Brisbane Heat take all available points against second-placed Sydney Thunder and move to sixth on the table after seven games. On a quick, batting-friendly surface, Mujeeb ur Rahman‘s wickets and exceptional fielding also played a part in Heat’s win as Thunder struggled to sustain any surges during their batting innings due to the five wickets he was involved in. With a decent start from openers Max Bryant, and the returning Chris Lynn, Heat set up their chase of 175 nicely before sealing the points – they beat Thunders’ 10-over score in 8.1 – to go over Perth Scorchers on the table.
In command, a wobble, and then three points
Nathan McAndrew and Adam Milne strangled Bryant and Lynn in the first few overs of Thunders’ defence of 174, but a couple of lapses provided enough room for Lynn to let loose. The opening stand was 37, and neither opener made it out of the powerplay, but they had done their jobs as Heat got 61 in six overs.
Burns, coming in at No. 4, took charge from there as Denly took a more patient approach. There was none of the tentativeness in Burns’ innings on Monday that we’ve seen in his recent Test innings – at every point, he looked not only to score, but knew exactly the scoring options to use. In this case, the best options were generally behind the bowler and Burns milked that area with both horizontal-batted swats and check-drives when the bowlers erred full. It kept the momentum from the powerplay as Heat marched towards the target.
Denly’s flourish came late, but with strong effect. Two swept sixes and a four against Tanveer Sangha in the 15th over took him to fifty, and brought Heat’s required rate to under run-a-ball. But an attempt to hit out meant he was stumped in the same over, and Lewis Gregory was out next ball pulling straight to deep midwicket.
Heat were well ahead of the rate but the wickets brought nerves. To counter them, and in a bid to take legspinner Sangha – who was on a hat-trick – out of the attack, they opted to take the Power Surge after 16 overs. That forced Thunder to bring on their fast bowlers, and Burns and Jimmy Peirson used that time to tick away against the required runs. Burns wasn’t there when the win was brought up at the start of the 20th over, but his fifty had taken them through.
Hales and Ferguson keep it smart
Before all of that, Thunder had elected to bat but lost Usman Khawaja off the second ball. The left-hander got a top edge looking to swat Xavier Bartlett over midwicket. Wicketkeeper and captain Peirson was caught in two minds as he and Mujeeb, from short fine leg, converged on it and came dangerously close to a collision. Ultimately, it was the latter who kept his eyes on the ball running backwards to slide and grab to his left as Peirson withdrew at the right moment.
That wicket didn’t affect Alex Hales at the other end, however, and the opener continued to display his stellar form this season. Having taken a few overs to get a sighter, Hales unleashed some characteristic shots on the up in the third over against Bartlett. That resulted in two fours and a disdainful six straight over the bowler to inject momentum to their start.
Callum Ferguson, at No. 3, was his usual busy self without being too explosive. His game was built around dabbing deliveries into the vast outfields square of the wickets, a tactic that kept the runs ticking. They turned 1 for 0 into 1 for 77 by the ninth over.
It’s a Mujeeb world
Mujeeb came into the game with seven wickets in his last two games, but Hales was willing to take him on. He smoked a pull over deep midwicket in the middle of the ninth over, but Mujeeb came back the next ball with one that got big outside off. Hales, who was on top of the BBL run cheers by this point, could only manage to chop to short third man.
In his next over, Mujeeb got Ferguson swiping out to deep midwicket. And just as Sam Billings had gotten going, he affected a sharp run out off his own bowling. Billing, running down the pitch, was beaten in flight and pushed the ball back down the pitch to Mujeeb. He couldn’t turn back quickly enough as Mujeeb sent a throw back on the bounce and caught him short on the dive. Thunder were 5 for 108 in the 14th over at this point. Mujeeb finished the night with two wickets, two catches, and a run-out. Ultimately, that proved to be a big difference.
Surges, concussions, and X-factors
After taking some time to arrest the freefall, allrounders Daniel Sams and Ben Cutting tore into Thunder with a Power Surge in the 17th over. They made 35 in that period and eventually had four sixes and four fours between them. That ramped Thunder up to 174 at the end of the innings. Sams, though, was struck on the helmet during his cameo and didn’t come out to bowl due to a concussion. He was replaced by Chris Tremain.
For Heat, left-arm spinner Mathew Kuhenmann was replaced after one over by an X-factor sub for the second consecutive game. Lynn made his comeback in Kuhnemann’s place.
He will join as a third selector and will join former captains Minhajul Abedin, the panel chief, and Habibul Bashar
The Bangladesh Cricket Board has named left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak as the third senior selector, to join former captains Minhajul Abedin, the panel chief, and Habibul Bashar. Razzak, who played 200 international matches between 2004 and 2018 and, at 38, continues to be an active cricketer, will have to retire from the game to take up the new job.
“My playing experience will certainly be valuable in this regard,” Razzak told ESPNcricinfo. “I used to play cricket, and now I have to help build the national team. I have been captaining in domestic cricket for a long time and I have often helped form teams. It has usually gone well. But the stakes are higher here, and the expectations are more. But still, I believe I can manage it.
“I am pretty sure I have to (retire). I haven’t mentioned it yet since I am awaiting the appointment letter but certainly when I join this new job, I have to quit (playing).”
Razzak was the first Bangladesh bowler to pick up 200 ODI wickets – he has 207 from 153 outings – and, despite not being a frontline batsman, is the holder of the record for the fastest half-century by a Bangladeshi in ODI cricket – 21 balls, joint with Mohammad Ashraful. He also made a comeback in the Test team against Sri Lanka in 2018 after a four-year break, which turned out to be his last international outing.
Over the years, he has been a domestic giant, with 137 first-class appearances. He has taken 634 wickets in them with 41 five-fors. He is also the first Bangladeshi bowler to bag 600 first-class wickets and has won nine domestic first-class titles with Khulna Division and South Zone.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
Mizzou charges back after halftime but can’t hold on in 88-82 loss to Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. — Sharife Cooper had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead Auburn to an 88-82 win over No. 12 Missouri on Tuesday night.
Cooper, a freshman point guard who missed Auburn’s first 11 contests this season, had his fourth 20-point outing in six career games. Bruce Pearl’s young Tigers, who also got 23 combined points from freshmen forwards JT Thor and Chris Moore, are now 4-2 since Cooper was ruled eligible by the NCAA.
“(Missouri is) one of the top teams in the country,” Cooper said. “It gives you confidence. We feel like we can compete with anybody.”
Auburn (10-7, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) raced out to a 14-point lead early, thanks in large part to some tenacious defense and rebounding.
However, a veteran Missouri team clawed its way back late in the first half, when Cooper was forced to sit because of foul trouble. While Missouri led by as many as seven in the second half, Auburn battled back and took the lead for good with 7:34 left on a floater from Cooper.
“He’s an alpha dog,” Pearl said of Cooper. “He’s the biggest little man out there, period. Everybody knows it.”
Missouri (10-3, 4-3) was led by seniors Jeremiah Tilmon and Dru Smith, who scored 42 of the team’s 82 points.
“It’s shot selection in timely situations… we were up by seven in the second half by getting the ball inside and moving it,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Then, all of a sudden, it was a quick shot here, a turnover there, a missed layup there. Those were momentum-killers.”
Missouri: Missouri’s winning streak in SEC play has come to an end at three games. Shooting woes, which were a theme in the previous SEC losses to Tennessee and Mississippi State, popped up again Tuesday. Missouri shot just 38.2 percent from the floor and 24 percent from deep for the game.
Auburn: Although Auburn has self-imposed a postseason ban, it now has a win over a ranked team that it can build on for the rest of the SEC slate. Auburn also showed it could come back and grab a victory after losing an early double-digit lead, something it failed to do last Wednesday in a road loss at Arkansas.
Missouri committed 31 fouls in the game, with Dru Smith, Mark Smith and Xavier Pinson all fouling out. Auburn shot 44 free throws as a team, with 30 of them coming after halftime.
Cooper hit 18 of 21 free-throw attempts in the second half alone.
“I’ll go back and watch film, and I’m not saying that the officials didn’t do a good job,” Martin said. “But 44 free throws is a lot when you’re trying to beat a team on the road.”
Two weeks ago, in a win over Georgia, Auburn became the first team in Division I basketball to have 14 blocks in a single game this season.
Auburn repeated the feat Tuesday night against Missouri. Sophomore center Babatunde Akingbola recorded five in just eight minutes off the bench. Thor blocked four shots. Six different Auburn players had at least one block.
“That’s just huge,” Pearl said of the 14 blocks. “We have some weaknesses, we have some warts. But we have some length.”
Missouri hosts TCU in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday, the first of three straight home games. Kentucky and Alabama will visit Mizzou Arena next week.
Auburn plays at No. 2 Baylor in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday. Pearl’s Tigers also played No. 1 Gonzaga away from home earlier this season.
Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren: YouTube star set for boxing exhibition match with former MMA champion
Boxing fans who have wanted to see Jake Paul finally face an experienced professional fighter will get their wish on Saturday, April 17 when the YouTube star takes on former Bellator MMA champion Ben Askren in an eight-round boxing match. The fight was confirmed to ESPN by Triller founder Ryan Kavanaugh on Tuesday.
Paul improved his pro record to 2-0 in November after scoring a viral knockout of former NBA star Nate Robinson on the undercard of the Triller pay-per-view for the exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. His prior victory was over fellow internet personality AnEsonGib. Paul followed up the Robinson win by calling out every professional fighter imaginable, with a strong focus on trying to land a fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor.
Instead, Paul will face off with Askren, a former champion in the ONE and Bellator MMA organizations who retired from active competition in 2019 after back-to-back losses in the UFC. While Askren does check the box of being an accomplished professional fighter, he is not a professional boxer. Askren’s background is in amateur wrestling, where he was a two-time Division I champion in college, a world champion in 2009 and a competitor on the 2008 Olympic freestyle wrestling team.
Triller scored massive success with the fight between Jones and Tyson, pulling in big pay-per-view numbers for the battle between retired boxing legends. Paul has now been a part of two big cards, though the April 17 event will be the first event he has headlined.
Paul’s older brother, Logan, has been tied to a February exhibition fight with Floyd Mayweather, though there are reports that the fight may have been postponed to a later date.