Tasmania win despite Klinger ton
Tasmania 8 for 269 (Doolan 68, Gulbis 50) beat South Australia 6 for 268 (Klinger 140*, Cooper 65, Rose 2-33) by 2 wickets
A blaze of late hitting by Ben Laughlin and an eye-popping lapse by Kane Richardson allowed Tasmania to wriggle to victory over South Australia in the domestic limited-overs match at the Bankstown Oval. The result overshadowed an outstanding, unbeaten 140 by Michael Klinger for the Redbacks, on a pitch that offered greater scope for run-making than any so far played on in the tournament.
Laughlin's fearless finish - 34 off 17 balls - lifted Tasmania from 8 for 239 to victory, though the Redbacks will feel they should not have allowed the match to get that close. Even so, the Tigers still required seven from the final over, and would have needed seven with only one wicket in hand had Richardson ran back to the stumps to run out the non-striker Laughlin first ball of the over. Instead he tossed the ball at the stumps and missed, allowing the Tasmanian pair to steal a single.
Klinger, who demonstrated the virtues of experience and also confidence gained over the winter with Gloucestershire during an innings that was at some times patient and others powerful, said SA had lost the match in the field. "If we're brutally honest with ourselves 268 should have been enough," Klinger said. "We just couldn't get it right with the ball, we gave them too many release balls and boundary balls, and we know that.
"Those things [in the last over] happen, but to be honest Tassie [Tasmania] shouldn't have been in a position to win that game in my opinion, so I certainly wouldn't blame Richo [Kane Richardson] for that one incident. Personally I don't think they should have got anywhere near it if we bowled to our plans and we didn't quite do that. Against a good team, letting it slip a tiny bit can mean the other team taking it away."
Watered, rolled and brought back into service after a pair of indifferent appearances at the start of the tournament, the pitch at Bankstown Oval showed improved humour, offering more even pace and fairer bounce though remaining slow. The Redbacks promoted Andrew McDonald to open in his SA debut after moving from Victoria, and he contributed a handful of solid blows to a swift start in Klinger's company - capitalising on Tasmanian bowling that erred on the full side.
Tim Paine, deputising for George Bailey, responded by introducing the left-arm spin of Clive Rose, and his flight teased McDonald down the pitch for a very neat stumping by the captain as the ball skidded between bat and pad. Tom Cooper and Klinger were quickly into stride, dealing in an intelligent mixture of singles and boundaries, and it quickly became apparent that SA were on the way to the most substantial tally of the tournament so far.
While Klinger compiled, Cooper cavaliered, showing the fluency that had him chosen for Australia A as recently as 2012. It was a surprise when Laughlin won an lbw verdict with a ball that tailed back towards the stumps to end the partnership at 116, but a sturdy platform had been set. Wickets fell regularly from that point, including a burst of 3-3 following Cooper's departure. But Klinger's innings grew in stature from a sturdy contribution to the most substantial of the competition, and the final total of 268 looked steep.
Tasmania made a horrid start, losing Ben Dunk to a run-out in the first over of the pursuit, but Alex Doolan, Ed Cowan and the promoted Evan Gulbis all played fluently to keep the required rate in check. Cowan was pinned lbw by Johan Botha in his first match since a citing for his bowling action, and it would be the SA captain's only wicket.
After defeats in their first two matches, the Tasmanians had discussed and trained to alter their play against spin, and plentiful runs duly flowed against Botha and Brenton McDonald, who struggled to land his flat legspinners with the desired consistency. Doolan's strokeplay was particularly beguiling, showing the cultured ease that has made him a batsman of interest to the national selectors at various times.
Nonetheless, neither Doolan nor Gulbis could go on from their handy scores, and after Jordan Silk then Paine were run-out after making starts, the Redbacks appeared to have the match in their keeping. Paine was upset to be given out on a tight call - video evidence varied as to whether or not he had grounded his bat - but his anger subsided as Laughlin made a last desperate dash.
Runs came in clumps, including a trio of sixes and, with Ben Hilfenhaus rotating the strike ably, the Tigers crept within sight. Seven were required at the start of the final over, and Laughlin compiled them calmly. But not before Richardson's gaffe, which will haunt him via the ghosts of YouTube for some years to come.
"That first ball was an interesting one, but we got a partnership going and it was nice to get a win to get us going," Laughlin said. "It was probably a better surface than the first couple of games, the footholes were pretty big out there but the pitch held together pretty well so we were able to get those runs at the end."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here