The Brisbane Heat have set themselves an audacious mission of winning the BBL title, and the spin of Marnus Labuschagne looms as a surprise weapon.
The Heat scraped into the BBL finals for the first time since 2016/17 after beating the Perth Scorchers by six runs in a last-ball thriller on Tuesday.
Before the match, Heat players set themselves the bold task of winning five straight matches in order to take home the BBL crown.
Defeating Perth was step one, but from here the path becomes even tricker.
If the Heat get over the line against Adelaide Strikers in Friday night’s elimination final at the Gabba, they will face the Sydney Thunder in what is effectively another elimination final.
Then would come the preliminary final and final, where the ladder-leading Sydney Sixers and second-placed Scorchers await in an order yet-to-be determined.
All this for a Heat outfit who last played finals four years ago.
“Yesterday we spoke about it that it was five games in a row we have to win to win this thing,” Heat spinner Mitchell Swepson said.
“We knew everything was on the line yesterday and it’s the same from here on out.
“It’s always said that momentum is massive in this tournament. A couple of back-to-back wins to go into the final series is great for us.”
Labuschagne’s feats in the Test arena have already gained him a reputation of being one of the best batsmen in world cricket.
But his efforts with the ball since returning to BBL ranks three games ago have played a crucial role in the Heat’s late surge.
Labuschagne has returned figures of 2-20, 1-10 and 3-35 and his leg-spin bowling looms as a crucial part of the Heat’s finals plans.
“It’s great he’s getting an opportunity for starters. He hasn’t bowled many overs in the past,” Swepson said.
“We know what he can do with the bat but to play that role with the ball as well is huge.”
The Strikers scraped into fifth spot after the Hobart Hurricanes suffered a shock loss to the Melbourne Renegades and the Melbourne Stars lost to the Sixers.
Star Strikers paceman Wes Agar says the team will embrace their underdog status.
“That’s fine with us. We know that as long as you’re in the finals anyone can win it,” Agar said.
“We just look at every game as a new game. Hopefully we can win the games and come out with that trophy at the end.”