BBL 13: Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne available for Heat’s season opener

Brisbane Heat will take on Melbourne Stars on December 7.

By Koustav Sengupta

Updated - 24 Nov 2023, 10:30 IST

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ODI World Cup winner Marnus Labuschagne along with Test opener Usman Khawaja are available for selection for Brisbane Heat’s opening fixture against Melbourne Stars in the upcoming Big Bash League (BBL). The match is slated to take place on December 7 at the Gabba, a week prior to Australia’s first Test against Pakistan in Perth and hence, both the cricketers have committed to play the first game.

Notably, Khawaja, who will turn 37 next month has not played a lot of matches in recent times. The southpaw played a couple of Sheffield Shield games for Queensland and hasn’t participated in any other competition. However, he wanted to play for the Heat before joining the national camp for the Test series against Pakistan, followed by West Indies.

Meanwhile, Khawaja and Labuschagne’s inclusion is a massive boost for the side, as they would once again aim to qualify for the playoffs. Labuschagne recently played a crucial knock for Australia in the World Cup final against India and hence, will be full of confidence as he aims to keep him available for next year’s T20 World Cup, which is slated to take place in June.

On the other hand, the Brisbane Heat will miss the services of Matthew Renshaw, Nathan McSweeney, Jimmy Peirson and Michael Neser as they all have been called up to the Prime Minister’s XI squad, who will take on Pakistan for a warm-up game ahead of the three-match Test series. However, their three draft picks - Sam Billings, Colin Munro and Paul Walter are available for selection.

Coming to their opponent Melbourne Stars, World Cup winners Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis will be available for them and may even play the opening game, despite a hectic World Cup schedule followed by a five-match T20I series against India. Pakistan duo Haris Rauf and Usama Mir will also be available for the Stars in their opening fixture. Notably, Rauf recently pulled out of Pakistan’s Test squad but will be playing BBL.

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