CRUCIAL: Beth Mooney has been pivotal for the Heat in the absence of stars Holly Ferling and Deandra Dottin.
CRUCIAL: Beth Mooney has been pivotal for the Heat in the absence of stars Holly Ferling and Deandra Dottin. ROB BLAKERS

Heat face crucial Gabba test

THE BRISBANE Heat Women must win-out to guarantee their place in the Big Bash League finals, with key players Deandra Dottin and Kingaroy's Holly Ferling unlikely to return.

Ferling is still struggling with an elbow injury she picked up last month, while big-hitting Dottin has been replaced by Lauren Winfield as the Heat's international marquee signing.

Halfway through the season the Heat looked to be losing touch with the top four, but the loss of their key players seemed to spur the Brisbane side into action.

Recent wins against finals challengers Sydney Thunder and Hobart Hurricanes helped to alleviate the early-season headaches, and Beth Mooney's return to form at the top of the order has been a welcome sight for Heat fans.

Mooney is one of just two players in the competition to average more than 50 with the bat - the other Aussie and Melbourne Stars captain Meg Lanning. 

Jess Jonassen has taken her bowling to a new level in the absence of Ferling, and is the only Heat bowler in the top 10 for the competition.

With the Sixers and Perth Scorchers looking comfortable at the top of the table, it looks like a race between five for the final two positions in the top four.

In a wide-open WBBL02 competition, only the Adelaide Strikers are guaranteed of missing out on a top four finish, languishing at the foot of the table with just three wins from 12.

Coincidentally - and perhaps fortunately - the bottom-placed Strikers are all that stands between the Heat and a finals berth when they meet for back-to-back matches at the Gabba on Friday and Saturday.

Sitting in fourth with six wins and six losses, the Heat must win-out against the struggling Strikers and hope the Hurricanes and Thunder drop one of their remaining three matches to be assured of a top-four finish.

Otherwise the Heat's fate rests with the Hurricanes, with the Tasmanian side set to face both the Thunder and third-placed Melbourne Stars in their final three matches.