Another Tie at Adelaide Oval

Redbacks tie with Tasmania in Nailbiter — see

SOUTH Australia last night busted the dam wall on the longest drought in Australian cricket, tying with Tasmania to claim the Ryobi Cup in a thrilling final at Adelaide Oval.   The Redbacks won their third one-day domestic premiership, finishing tied with Tigers in a last-ball nail-biter but triumphing as the higher-ranked side to overcome a 25-year exile from the champions stage. South Australia – an undisputed dud in the all-white arena of Sheffield Shield cricket – turned on red-and-black magic to claim the state’s first one-day silverware since it beat Tassie in the 1986-87 McDonald’s Cup final. Until last night, no state side had waited longer for a competition victory. In amazing closing scenes, tailender James Faulkner needed a run to tie and two runs to win from the final ball from Gary Putland. He missed and non-striker Ricky Ponting – booed for removing his pads for the final ball – scrambled through for the tying bye. It wasn’t enough.

Needing just five to win with seven wickets in hand starting the final over, Bailey fell on the second ball, lbw on referral. Facing four to get from four runs, and with Ponting (75) stranded at the bowlers end, Faulkner dug out a yorker for a handy two. Faulkner played and missed the next two deliveries, leaving two to win and one to tie from the last ball.

Defending an imposing 285, the Redbacks manufactured one of the most dramatic championship wins in front of 10,245 free-entry fans. Even the injection for Tasmania of Australia’s greatest one-day batsman, Ponting (75), and a brilliant 101 to skipper George Bailey failed to lift the Tigers to their third crown in five years.

Redbacks captain Michael Klinger was the hero with the bat and in the field, backing up his 81 in SA’s innings with two superb catches that ignited his side’s defensive stand. It was the sweetest reward for a man who steered SA to Big Bash victory last year, and as little as two years ago was staggeringly considered unworthy of selection in the state one-day side. Unheralded Klinger, who also topped the one-day run scorers list with 498 at 55, must surely now be considered among the country’s premier short-form batsmen

Australia’s No. 1 spinner Nathan Lyon snared 3/86 including the pivotal first two Tassie wickets in an over thanks to Klinger’s safe hands.

The first catch – a crucial finger-tipper at close mid-wicket in the 15th over – ended an ominous 77-run opening stand between Jonathan Wells and former Redback Mark Cosgrove that threatened to rain on South Australia’s party. The second, another in-close dive three balls later that sent Test opener Ed Cowan packing for a duck, gave the Redbacks the taste of blood.

But former Redback Mark Cosgrove sent a scare around his old home ground as he punished the SA attack with heavy hitting into and over the Adelaide Oval boundaries. The burly left-hander clobbered his way to 69 until he took on Lyon once too often, skying an attempted slog sweep to Doropoulos in the deep.

Axed international Ponting had a point to prove and lived dangerously as he and Tigers captain George Bailey launched a fightback in the middle overs. The pair looked to have the match wrapped up until Putland – a villain earlier when he dropped Ponting in the outfield – bowled a superb final over to leave scores level.

Earlier, Klinger top-scored for SA with support from fellow opener Dan Harris (60) and late fireworks from Theo Doropoulos (40 off 34 balls). Harris was on the warpath early, cracking four boundaries inside the first five overs. The SA pair punished anything wide of a good line and length, especially through the off side, and tested the Tasmanian fielders with sharp running that defied the scorching 39C heat. Both were caught trying to lift the scoring rate. Theo Doropoulos offered late fireworks with 40 off 34 balls including four sixes and returning Cam Borgas (29) put the icing on an impressive SA dig with rapid scoring.

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