Paine ton ends Redbacks' hopes
Tasmania 5 for 227 (Paine 115, Dighton 44) beat South Australia 156 by 121 runs
Wednesday night send-offs for former Australian batsmen are becoming something of a feature for the Redbacks this season. But it was always going to require something magical for the departing Matthew Elliott to follow up Darren Lehmann's fairytale farewell century in November when they enjoyed a record stand.
The stage was set - Elliott is the leading runscorer in the competition this year and was Player of the Year last year - but instead he made 15 and promptly declared his final partnership with Lehmann "the standout of the season". This knock was in a losing cause as South Australia's batsmen went all-out to chase the 278 they needed from 25 overs for two bonus points against table-toppers Tasmania who ruled them out of finals contention and sealed a home final at Bellerive with a crushing 121-run victory with barely any need for lights.
Tim Paine defied a two-paced pitch as he caressed his way to his highest one-day score of 115 to give the visitors a weighty total. His careful innings, just his second one-day century, was well-timed although he was lucky to evade substitute Paul Rofe's grasping hands when on 97 he went aerial over long-on off Ryan Harris. As it was, the ball went over Rofe's head for four to bring up the milestone.
The experiment to have the nagging Paine as opener worked well - "Painey was awesome, we've been crying out for someone to do that," smiled his captain Daniel Marsh - and he and Dighton put on 90, somehow finding width from the otherwise-tight lines of the bowlers in a no-frills stand. Dighton made 44 before holing out at long-on off Dan Cullen then the innings ticked along until Travis Birt and Brendan Geeves upped the tempo with Paine adding 97 from the last ten overs.
Tasmania's bowlers then did a fine job and their campaign continues to look healthy. Xavier Doherty was the stand-out with three cheap wickets, while Ben Hilfenhaus recovered from an early attack by the clean-hitting Daniel Harris. Brendan Drew troubled the batsmen using the pitch well to seam it away and the bowlers continued to apply the pressure.
Elliott announced earlier this week that it was time for the younger players to step up. But after his anti-climactic early departure, top-edging off Ben Hilfenhaus in front of just over 1000 spectators, Harris, Mark Cosgrove, Daniel Christian and Callum Ferguson all fell in quick succession.
Nathan Adcock had his own personal battle in his first state appearance since being dropped from the Pura Cup, but after impressing with three wickets he edged Doherty to first slip for 2 as the slide continued (6 for 85). While the final four wickets nearly doubled the score, the damage was long done.
Tasmania and Victoria will now compete for the title.
Jenny Thompson is an assistant editor at Cricinfo