Audacious Lehmann shines in last hurrah
South Australia 2 for 308 (Elliott 133*, Lehmann 126*) beat Western Australia 6 for 305 (Ervine 134*, Ronchi 69) by eight wickets
Talk about saving your best for last. Darren Lehmann brought the champagne to his own one-day send-off with a fizzing century which drove South Australia to a record-breaking chase in Adelaide as they hunted down 306 against Western Australia. It was a superb knock, his 126 from 104 balls a fitting firework display for the thousands of fans who watched him and Matthew Elliott gun down records for fun.
Elliott made a century of his own as the pair entered the highest successful chase in one-day domestic history, and their unbroken 236-run stand was a record for any wicket for South Australia in this competition. It was also Elliott's highest score in the tournament, while Lehmann passed 4000 one-day runs for South Australia.
Lehmann truly delivered a batting masterclass. He struck here, he drove there, no shot was beyond him. He even found some room for improvisation but the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for the winning run, naturally struck by him. "A dream come true," he beamed; no tears tonight, just joy.
There was an inevitable touch of sadness, though, as he reminded the crowd just what they will be missing. But, wait, does he have to go? "He might have second thoughts now," smiled his captain Nathan Adcock. "Gee whizz, they don't come better than that."
The side are now third on the table, with two wins in this competition but, of course, they will have to do without Lehmann from now on. They do, however, still have Elliott.
He was also outstanding as South Australia let their hair down to forget their current troubles. His 133 came from 137 deliveries, and he was in his groove from the start, seeing the ball well.
He and Mark Cosgrove set the tone for the mountainous chase after Callum Ferguson's experiment as opener failed, but the match was all about Lehmann, who was screamed in to bat after Danny McLauchlan booted Cosgrove out, by kicking the ball to run him out.
If all of that sounds breathless, it was, and the pace was set from the off as Western Australia piled it up on a flat pitch. They broke a record of their own, Sean Ervine's cracking unbeaten century boosting them to the highest total against South Australia on the ground. Luke Ronchi added a bruising 58-ball 69 and the debutant Theo Doropoulos joined the party with a quickfire 21.
Matt Johnston, however, was under fire - he had to be taken to hospital following a nasty blow to the cheek from Ferguson's accidentally wayward throw on 2. He sustained two fractures, will undergo surgery on Thursday and is expected to be out of action for six to seven weeks.
Even though they lost some momentum late on, at halfway it looked like the Warriors wouldn't miss the suspended Shaun Marsh and Luke Pomersbach in combat. But they did. "It's been a tough ride," admitted their captain Adam Voges, who made 42. "There's not a lot you can do when two blokes are batting like that. It needed a couple of special innings to chase down."
They duly arrived on what was Lehmann's night: nobody would be spoiling his party. Not even Ronchi, who dropped him on 85 when Lehmann sent the ball high into the night sky. It came down with a star on it.
The Redbacks will be one star fewer from now on, but on Wednesday night Lehmann shone brilliantly once more.
Jenny Thompson is associate editor of Cricinfo