Burns blow ahead of Sixers clash
CRICKET: Brisbane Heat's Big Bash finals hopes have copped another blow after in-form batsman Joe Burns was injured at training on Wednesday.
Burns is battling to face the resurgent Sydney Sixers at the SCG in Thursday night's must-win clash after aggravating a groin injury.
The 28-year-old was left in agony on the SCG turf when a fielding drill went wrong, later walking from the field to be assessed by Heat medicos.
A final decision on his fitness will be made on Thursday, however the pain Burns experienced suggests he is facing an uphill battle to take the field.
After cruising through the first half of the tournament, the Heat are now outside the top four and need to win their remaining two matches to have any chance of making the finals.
They have already lost dynamic batsman Chris Lynn to a calf injury and the scratching of Burns would be a major blow to Brisbane's playoff chances.
Burns has been in hot touch for the Heat this summer, scoring 201 runs at 40.2 to rocket back into national selection discussions.
The former Test opener has been discussed as a candidate for a berth in Australia's squad to tour South Africa next month.
He missed one match with a groin injury early in the tournament but returned to play a key role in Brisbane's batting line-up.
The Heat's finals chances copped a blow when they lost back-to-back matches to the Hurricanes and they must now beat the Sixers, who have found form late in the tournament.
After losing their first six matches, the Sixers have won their past two and Heat assistant coach Shane Bond said Brisbane was facing a tough task.
"It's a realisation now that we've got to win four games in a row to lift the trophy," he said.
"We could still make it with one win but we don't want to rely on other teams.
"We have to come out (tonight) and win. We have to play more accurately than we have in the last couple.
"If we win we can sit back over our nine-day break and then we'll know exactly where we sit (before our final match against the Renegades).
"When you're out of the competition (like the Sixers) it allows players to free up because there's nothing really riding on it.
"With the quality of players they have they are a very dangerous team.
"It's going to be a tough game. We're going to have to be at our best to beat them."
If the Heat can beat the Sixers, Lynn will be in the equation to face the Renegades at the Gabba on Saturday week.
The competition's player-of-the-tournament for the past two summers has been restricted to just four games by hamstring, shoulder and calf injuries, but is a strong chance of playing in the finals if the Heat qualify.
"He's not ready to go yet," Bond said.
"If we can win the next two and find ourselves in the semi-finals we get our best player back and that's always exciting when you know you're going to add some strength to the squad.
"We think we've got a squad good enough to go on and win the tournament without him, but we've got to win the next game in front of us."
All-rounder Marnus Labuschagne is expected to replace Burns for Thursday's match.