Stars made to wait as Heat secure semi-final berth

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Joe Burns and Alex Ross each scored unbeaten 40s as Brisbane Heat sealed their place in the Big Bash League semi-finals with a comfortable seven-wicket win over Melbourne Stars.

These two came into Tuesday's meeting at the MCG as the leading sides in the competition, with the winner guaranteed to become the first team to secure their last-four berth.

That honour went to the visitors, whose captain Brendon McCullum was suspended due to slow over rates, but his absence was not felt as they had little trouble in chasing down a below-par victory target of 139 with 11 deliveries to spare.

Stars' Luke Wright carried his bat for an unbeaten 60 in their 138-7 but golden ducks for Rob Quiney, Kevin Pietersen and Marcus Stoinis undermined their efforts to post a more competitive total.

Sam Heazlett's 39 from 27 balls set the platform for the Heat, before skipper Burns (42 off 32) and Ross (46 from 40) finished the job with aplomb.

A FLOCK OF DUCKS AS HEAT ENJOY A QUACKING DAY OUT

The Stars' innings got off to a dreadful start, setting the tone for their day as a whole.

After the Heat's Mark Steketee began with a wide, Quiney was bowled from his first legitimate delivery and Pietersen was trapped in front very next ball.

Seb Gotch survived the hat-trick ball but in the ninth over, he was castled by Mitchell Swepson, with Stoinis cleaned up with the next delivery as the Stars recorded their third golden duck of the innings.

BURNS IN A HURRY TO FINISH

With the Heat needing 22 from the final three overs and seven wickets still in the hutch, the situation was well in hand.

But Burns was not leaving anything to chance, clubbing Ben Hilfenhaus' first three balls of the 18th over for six, six, four to eliminate any thoughts of a nervy finish.

The first two were deposited over the square leg fence, before a superb inside-out drive over cover brought the equation down to six off 15.

GOOD OMEN FOR THE HEAT, NO PANIC FOR THE STARS

Tuesday's win secured the Heat's place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2013.

The result on that occasion? They went on to lift the title, defeating Perth Scorchers by 34 runs in the final.

The Stars' place in the last four is not yet assured, but their superior net run rate means even a defeat in their final fixture against Sydney Sixers is unlikely to end their campaign.