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Brisbane Heat relish BBL underdog status
By Greg Buckle
18:02 AEST Mon Jan 14 2013

Brisbane Heat captain James Hopes says his fourth-placed side have the luxury of underdog status in Tuesday's BBL knockout semi-final against Melbourne Renegades.

Both teams missed the top four last summer.

However skipper Aaron Finch's Renegades have put themselves in sight of completing a fairytale season after winning seven of their eight regular-season games and earning a home semi-final at Etihad Stadium.

"We don't have much to lose while they'll be thinking they're the top team and should deservedly go through to the final," Hopes told reporters on Monday.

"So we can play with a bit of freedom.

"A lot of players will say the two semi-finals are the bigger games of the tournament because once you get through them you're into the Champions League.

"We're a Queensland-based team. We always consider ourselves the underdogs."

Hopes has declared big-hitting Luke Pomersbach as a certain starter despite suffering a blow to the foot in last weekend's clash with Hobart Hurricanes.

Pomersbach hit 82 in the match in Hobart, including the faster half-century of the tournament this summer which came off just 24 deliveries.

"He's fine," Hopes said.

The Renegades and the Heat regain Finch and pace bowler Ben Cutting respectively from Australian one-day duties.

Opener Finch will form a one-two punch with England import Alex Hales, who smashed 89 off 52 deliveries in his first match against Sydney Sixers on January 9 after replacing injured West Indian Marlon Samuels.

Hopes says the Heat are well aware of Hales' talents and looked at recruiting him for this season.

"We've done a bit of planning. But in T20 cricket, if a batsman has a day out, there's very little you can do," Hopes said.

Finch (309 runs at 77.25) and Ben Rohrer (253 at 50.60) have dominated the tournament and with Hales also in top form, Finch is thrilled with his side's batting depth.

Tom Cooper (135 at 33.75) has also provided valuable middle-order runs.

The skipper described Hales' batting against the Sixers as phenomenal.

"That was the cleanest striking I've ever seen," Finch said.

Finch is desperate to dismiss Pomersbach early and get his spinners on against the Heat's middle-order.

"We've got the luxury of having the greatest offspinner of all time (Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan) along with Aaron O'Brien," Finch said.

"It is a big advantage playing at home."

Hopes says wicket-less offspinner Nathan Hauritz (0-122 from 15 overs) could be the visitors' secret weapon.

"There's two games to go and it's a funny thing, we've planned for Nathan to have a big impact in this next game," Hopes said.