Brisbane Heat have learned to swallow their ego as they seek to upset Sydney Thunder and embark on a barnstorming run through the Big Bash League finals.
The Heat entered their last game of the regular season unsure of their place in the finals, knowing they would need five wins on the trot to secure the title.
Darren Lehmann’s men have secured two of those victories, upsetting Perth on Tuesday then ending Adelaide’s season on Friday night.
The Heat crashed to 3-23 in pursuit of a modest target of 131 in their elimination final, threatening to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
But Jimmy Peirson failed to panic, finishing 47 not out to ensure his side advanced to Sunday’s knockout final against the Thunder in Canberra.
“We’ve swallowed our ego a little bit this year,” Peirson said.
“Even the way Lynny (captain Chris Lynn) is batting – he’s batting with more responsibility and he’s scoring mountains of runs.
“We had a hard look at ourselves and we realised what we were doing wasn’t working.
“The difference this year is we’re finding ways to win those tight games. We’re prepared to take the game a bit deeper, whereas in years gone by we’d try and win that game in the 16th over.”
The wicketkeeper added “we’ve got the momentum, that’s for sure, but we don’t want to think too far ahead”.
The Thunder are hosting their only home final at Manuka Oval, having failed to play a single game in Sydney this season because of border closures related to the city’s COVID-19 outbreak.
But the hosts have a strong knowledge of local conditions, having regularly played home games in Canberra during recent seasons.
“We’re obviously disappointed not to be in Sydney but Canberra is our second home, so we’re very lucky in that regard,” Thunder coach Shane Bond said.
“We always get a good wicket here in Manuka.
“We just want to play on good cricket wickets, so it purely comes down to who is the best team and Canberra has been a belter.”
The Thunder played seven of their 14 regular-season games this summer at Manuka Oval, which was one of several hubs used by Cricket Australia during the pandemic-affected season.
“I really love bowling at Manuka,” in-form legspinner Tanveer Sangha said.
“I played my first five games down here, so I feel quite comfortable and I know the crowd is amazing. We get great support and that’s helpful as well.”