Redbacks enter Big Bash final and Champions League
South Australia 131 (Manou 33, Pollard 27, Naved 3-15, Faulkner 2-11) beat Tasmania 9 for 108 (Birt 22, O'Brien 3-15, Tait 3-27) by 23 runs
South Australia earned their fourth successive win in the Twenty20 Big Bash, a dramatic and action-packed win over Tasmania at the Adelaide Oval, to secure a place in the final. Another big crowd (14,440) was on hand to see the hosts book their flights to India for the lucrative Champions League Twenty20 in a low-scoring affair, which included a second Tigers hat-trick in as many games.
The Redbacks captain Graham Manou elected to bat and got his side off to a flying start, before a brilliant bit of fielding from George Bailey had him run out for 33 off 16 balls. The hosts continued to cruise until the quick wickets of Tom Cooper and Shahid Afridi forced Mark Cosgrove (25 off 29 balls) and Kieron Pollard (27 off 23) to drop anchor and steady the innings.
At 4 for 127 in the 17th over, the Redbacks still looked capable of posting a competitive total, but Rana Naved triggered an incredible collapse with the wicket of Pollard. Cameron Borgas was caught plumb next ball before Dan Christian bizarrely decided to dance down the track to the hat-trick ball, only to see his off stump rattled. Cosgrove was caught just short of his ground next ball before Mark Cleary and Shaun Tait departed in the next over from youngster James Faulkner to bring an abrupt end to the innings at 131.
Tasmania had the momentum going into the chase, but Tait's blistering opening over put paid to their hopes of maintaining the ascendancy. He wrested back the initiative for the hosts by dismissing openers Tim Paine and Michael Dighton for golden ducks off the first two balls of the run chase - both top edging hook shots. At that point in the match, an incredible eight wickets had fallen in the space of 13 balls. Christian chimed in with the wicket of the dangerous Rhett Lockyear before Bailey (16 off 28 balls) and Travis Birt (22 off 28 balls) steadied the ship.
The game was crying out for another hero and Aaron O'Brien obliged, with a Man-of-the-Match spell of 3 for 15. He tore the heart out of the Tigers' middle order with the wickets of Bailey, Birt and Naved. Wickets to Christian and Afridi ended any hope for the visitors and they hobbled from 74 for 8 to reach 108 in their 20 overs.
The Redbacks can now celebrate, knowing they will feature in the Big Bash final on January 23, regardless of the result of their match against New South Wales on Sunday. Tasmania will need a big win over Victoria at the MCG on Friday and other results to fall their way if they are to book their berth for that match.