A career-best unbeaten knock from John Hastings has helped fast-finishing Victoria book a Ryobi Cup final berth and conjure a thrilling two-wicket victory over South Australia at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Heroic Hastings blasted 69 from 57 balls and pushed a leg bye for the winning run off Daniel Christian with three balls remaining after Darren Pattinson cracked Christian over his head for a massive six when eight were required off the last over as the Bushrangers overcame several early jitters to reach 8-256 in response to SA's 7-255.
Behind the eight ball for the majority of the run chase, especially after dipping to 4-60, David Hussey stroked a masterful 87 before Hastings provided the late-innings fireworks.
Hastings and Pattinson combined for a gutsy 38-run ninth-wicket union as the Bushrangers' tail wagged with ferocity.
Although in vain, comeback king Kane Richardson made a triumphant return to state ranks, capturing 5-61 after Callum Ferguson's fine 110 laid a solid foundation for the Redbacks.
It was an encouraging return to top-flight action for Richardson, who recently undertook remedial work on his action following his mid-innings exit for running on the pitch in his one-day international debut at this venue against Sri Lanka last month.
Showcasing his remodelled action and rectified follow through, Richardson started nervously from the River End with a wide and a leg-side boundary before finding his groove and trapping Rob Quiney (four) lbw with his second legitimate delivery, then bowling Chris Rogers for 17.
Richardson's new-ball partner Gary Putland started promisingly but pulled up lame just 13 balls into his spell and sauntered off to receive treatment for a hamstring complaint.
Despite the left-arm seamer's exit, SA didn't miss a beat.
Supporting Richardson, Jake Haberfield (2-52) struck twice in his third over.
He cannoned a speedy nut into leg stump after Peter Handscomb (19) crept too far across his crease before sending Bushrangers skipper Cameron White packing for a second-ball duck.
White stood his ground momentarily in disbelief before shifting into a quick gallop after being adjudged leg-before, television replays suggesting he may have squeezed it with an inside edge.
Reeling at 4-60, Hussey and Michael Hill embarked on a salvage job for the Vics before $700,000-man Richardson, bound for IPL riches with the Pune Warriors, castled Hill (25) with the fourth ball of his second spell.
Hussey and Hastings then combined for a match-turning 63-run sixth-wicket union which allowed Victoria to seize the momentum before Richardson conjured the big breakthrough SA needed when he rattled the woodwork of Hussey, who attempted a wild hoick across the line.
Richardson was on a hat-trick when Will Sheridan departed for a golden duck after feathering one through to Tim Ludeman.
Displaying brute force, Hastings hit the fastest 50 of the summer - and the first of his domestic one-day career - off 38 balls to keep the Bushrangers in the hunt.
Hastings was dropped by Alex Ross in the outfield - which was a sitter and proved pivotal - and cracked 18 off one Johan Botha over as the required rate dipped below a run-a-ball with nine overs to go.
Scott Boland was run out for five via a direct hit from Botha but Hastings was unfazed and had an able partner in Pattinson to help the visitors over the line after all hope had appeared lost.
Earlier, Ferguson's terrific ton helped steer SA to 7-255 after Redbacks captain Botha won the toss and elected to bat in perfect conditions.
After the early dismissal of makeshift opener Ludeman (one), Ferguson and Michael Klinger backboned the Redback's innings.
Klinger set the tone early, while Ferguson built his innings beautifully after a scratchy start.
It could have been a different story altogether with both batsmen dropped behind the wicket early.
Otherwise, the pair were rarely troubled in combining for 162 runs off 199 balls for the second wicket.
The breakthrough for the Vics finally came when Klinger (87) was trapped leg-before by impressive debutant leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed (3-47) with a straight one.
The Pakistan-born refugee, plucked from the obscurity of net bowling in the Gabba Test against South Africa earlier this summer, struck again when Tom Cooper (three) chipped a full toss to Quiney at mid-off.
The recalled Christian (four) was adjudged lbw off the bowling of Hastings (2-64) with one that looked to be slanting down leg side before Ross (one) edged a textbook Fawad leggie to White at slip via a ricochet of Handscomb's gloves.
Amid the 4-15 collapse, Ferguson towered from strength to strength.
After raising his fourth List A ton, Ferguson cracked Boland for a stunning straight six before succumbing for an equal career-best 110 off 125 balls when he sliced Hastings to White at extra cover.
Ferguson's excellent knock and some smart late-innings hitting from Botha (24 not out) lifted SA to a total which looked beyond the Vics for the majority of the run chase before Hussey and Hastings took charge.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 09 February, 2013 10:55PM AEST