Hard-hitting half centuries from Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch have seen Victoria demolish an embattled Western Australia by nine wickets in their Ryobi Cup clash at the MCG on Wednesday night.
On a dark day for WA cricket as the fall-out from the infamous Perth Scorchers tour to South Africa seemingly claimed coach Lachlan Stevens, who resigned in the morning, the Warriors struggled to contain a rampant Victoria, who chased down a meagre target of 182 with consummate ease and 16 overs to spare.
The only downside for the Bushrangers was a hamstring injury to Clint McKay that occurred while he was bowling, with the paceman to undergo scans on Thursday to determine its severity.
Western Australia struggled terribly with the bat, despite Mitch Marsh's classy half-century, as the Warriors failed to see out their allotted 50 overs and were dismissed for 181, the lowest one-day score at the MCG since New South Wales struggled to 180 back in 2006.
Jayde Herrick proved the destroyer for the Vics, the bald-headed paceman claiming 5-51 from 12.3 overs, his wickets including the big scalps of WA skipper Adam Voges (18) and Marsh (51), along with debutant Hilton Cartwright (4), Mitch Johnson (15) and Nathan Rimmington (14).
Johnson had some luck in his innings as he survived an incredibly close run-out call after some good fielding by Maxwell, but the former Australian spearhead had absolutely no luck with the ball from the very first over, despite impressing at times with a spell of 0-30 from seven overs.
Right from the outset, Johnson bowled two wides, but with his fourth actual delivery, he struck Finch on the pads and the opener was given out.
But before he could leave the field, Finch was recalled by third umpire Geoff Joshua, who believed the ball was heading over the stumps on the basis of Hawkeye.
The let-off proved a big one in the context of the game as Finch went on to blast 80 runs from 89 deliveries while he was ably assisted by Chris Rogers (27) and a typically bullish Maxwell (58 off 53).
Maxwell was also lucky to stay out in the middle after surviving two big calls within the first five deliveries he faced.
After Rogers was dismissed by an impressive Cartwright (1-33), who managed to move the ball off the seam and earn a thick edge from the opener, the bowler came within millimetres of taking Maxwell's wicket three balls later, as he gained more movement.
Maxwell edged the ball through to wicketkeeper Tom Triffitt, who took it low down but replays indicated the ball had just nudged the grass moments before landing in Triffitt's glove.
In the next over, Maxwell survived another Johnson lbw decision. Once again, the batsman was dismissed by the field umpire and once again, he was recalled by Joshua on the basis of Hawkeye saying the ball was going over the stumps.
An exasperated Johnson returned fire with a 146km delivery that struck Maxwell on the body, but Maxwell responded with a four and an audacious six as he set the tone for another power-packed knock.
In tandem with Finch, the pair added 111 runs off just 97 balls, inflicting more misery on a Western Australian side that's probably copped more than their fair share of hardship over the past few weeks.
The Warriors were also denied a run-out as Finch scampered through for a quick single at the striker's end, the replay being inconclusive as to whether the bails had come off in time.
And as the Warriors' luck run out, the discipline gave way somewhat, as they conceded a total of 20 sundries that included 12 wides, six of them coming from Rimmington.
But that was to take nothing away from some blistering batting by Finch and Maxwell, who thrilled the tiny crowd, Finch striking 10 fours and a six, while Maxwell added three fours and three sixes as they chased down the total in 33.2 overs for a bonus-point win, finishing with 1-185.
And if the reports are true that Justin Langer will be announced as the new WA coach on Friday, then the former Australian Test opener will have plenty of work to do salvaging something from the Warriors' season so far.
First Posted 07 November, 2012 9:09PM AEST