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NEWCASTLE, NSW, Jan 26 AAP - Simon Katich went out to dinner with his former West Australian teammates last night and then dined out on them today as NSW won a thrilling Pura Cup match in Newcastle.
Katich, who left WA for NSW in the off-season, picked up career-best figures of 5-45 as the Warriors lost the unlosable at Newcastle's No.1 Sports Ground in one of the most memorable Pura Cup matches in recent years.
Cruising at 4-272, only 27 runs short of their victory target of 299, the Warriors lost captain Justin Langer for 38 and the rest of the side followed for the addition of only 24 runs, gifting NSW a stunning two run victory and Pura Cup survival.
Test captain Steve Waugh described it as one of the best state matches he'd played in and one of the best victories he'd ever been associated with.
High praise indeed from a 37-year-old with more than 150 Test matches, 73 Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup games and many more one day matches on his resume.
"It's as good as any state match I have played in for a win. It was one of the best wins I have been a part of full stop," Waugh said.
"At 4-270 we were in a bit of trouble. The game was 95 per cent in their favour."
The Blues owed a debt of gratitude to Katich, whose decision to leave WA still makes Langer bristle.
The former Test batsman, who was best man at Michael Hussey's wedding, remains good friends with several Warriors players and shared dinner with them last night.
But today he was breaking partnerships not bread as he ripped the spine out of the WA's batting order.
His left-arm wrist spin, without a wicket in Pura Cup this season, sparked a stunning WA collapse and ensured NSW (24 points) would remain hot on the heels of second-placed Victoria (28).
"I think my best before this was about 3-20 which I burgled on the Ashes tour," Katich said today.
"A few things went my way today and it was a phenomenal game of cricket.
"The whole week has been strange for me. A lot of them are my good mates.
"You always feel if you can get at the tail of a team it may put pressure on them. If you can bowl a couple of maidens panic can set in."
He was right.
In a thrilling finale, Katich had Langer caught by Stuart MacGill at cover off a rank long-hop and Callum Thorp (0) out lbw with the score on 272.
MacGill, who took 5-112 and match figures of 9-212, then chimed in to have Matthew Nicholson (2) caught by Stuart Clark with the score on 275 before Greg Mail took an amazing reflex catch off the dangerous Hussey (26) at silly mid-off as Katich removed another batsman on the same score.
Beau Casson and Jo Angel (9) added 17 before MacGill had the latter caught by Doug Bollinger seven runs short of the target.
MacGill then completed the remarkable victory when Casson (8), with three runs short of victory and with only five balls remaining in the day's play, attempted to get them all in one swing of the bat but only succeeded in sending the ball down the throat of Michael Clarke.
"I am really relieved and pleased and excited but still getting over the stress. I have to mention Katich," MacGill said.
"When he came to NSW I identified him as the second best spin bowler in NSW by head and shoulders. He's got the potential to be a great all rounder for Australia."
Clarke produced another eye catching batting display this morning for NSW to help set up the victory target, finishing on 116 after savaging the WA attack.
He took 13 off one over from fast bowler Michael Clark before unleashing on Nicholson, pulling the former Test paceman for six over mid-wicket.
Mark Waugh offered valuable support, finishing not out on 83 off only 113 balls as NSW declared for 5-316.