Western Australia have claimed a sensational one-wicket win over South Australia in a Sheffield Shield thriller at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
The Warriors staked their claim for a final berth following spin ace Ashton Agar and pace bowler Michael Hogan's desperate last-wicket stand at the death.
On the verge of an early bath at 9-143 after losing a staggering 5-29 and chasing 207 for victory, Agar (22 not out) and Hogan (47 not out) dug their heels in and clawed their way to victory with an astonishing 68-run partnership.
It was the second consecutive four-day encounter in which the Warriors had completed a remarkable comeback after reeling in the third-highest Shield run chase target against Tasmania two weeks ago.
Agar, 19, was at the forefront of that incredible fight back with an unbeaten 71-run knock and he was at it again on Sunday playing well beyond his years.
The left-hander played a defensive bat with careful shot selection for an intelligent knock that highlighted the teenage spinner's promising reputation, while Hogan spanked the Redbacks bowlers with some heavy hitting and valuable boundaries.
Hogan, who played a starring role for the Warriors in the first innings with a five-wicket haul and handy 31-run contribution with the bat, was particularly undaunted by the monumental task, taking numerous risks and unloading an arsenal of free-swinging big hits.
The towering quick struck the winning runs with a booming six before rejoicing with Agar and being met with emotional jubilation by his Warriors team-mates out on the Adelaide Oval track.
Their third consecutive win lifts the Warriors to as high as second on 26 points and on the verge of clinching a first Shield final appearance since 1998/99.
With victory and a golden opportunity to put a foot in the competition decider for the first time in 17 years snatched from their grasp, the Redbacks slide to third on a congested Shield table and are at risk of missing out given the number of possible scenarios and teams vying for a final spot.
To start the day, Marcus Harris (74) and Mitch Marsh (28) raced out of the blocks in the opening hour of the morning, smashing 50 runs.
Marsh was particularly aggressive, lashing two quick boundaries before the front-foot approach almost brought an early end to the right-hander's innings.
The 21-year-old cut a short Carl Tietjens delivery that whizzed to Sam Raphael at gully, but the Redbacks top-order batsman couldn't hold on.
Marsh refused to tone down the batting fireworks despite flirting with danger and it immediately paid dividends as the Australian one-day representative punched Tietjens for back-to-back fours to surpass 100 for the Warriors.
Harris would be at fault for Marsh's eventual dismissal to bring an end to their 63-run partnership three overs later when he took off for a single that ran out the all-rounder.
Marsh looked to have made it home as he scrambled up the pitch and dived for the crease, but was given out after Redbacks wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman whipped off the bails from Callum Ferguson's underarm throw from cover-point.
The Redbacks had the vital breakthrough but still faced some tough resistance from Harris and new man at the crease Sam Whiteman (15).
The resistance eventually came unstuck when Joe Mennie (3-80) flashed a ball wide of off stump that Harris went after and snared a thick edge behind to Ludeman who leaped across first slip and took yet another sensational one-handed diving catch.
With Harris gone, the Redbacks smelt blood and claimed another swift scalp when captain Johan Botha's (3-60) arm ball kept low and bowled Whiteman who had opened up his body to strike down leg side.
The Warriors had lost 3-25 as they trudged into lunch at 7-138.
It only got worse when Nathan Coulter-Nile was bowled by Botha for a duck on the first ball following lunch, after the paceman's gung-ho swing missed the ball cleanly.
Burt Cockley faced 15 balls without score when he was caught behind to push the Redbacks within touching distance of victory.
But Agar and Hogan would not roll over as they went after the Redbacks attack despite flirting with danger on several occasions.
The Redbacks will be left to rue sloppy fielding as the tail-end duo were given license to hit out and punish the hosts.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 10 March, 2013 4:34PM AEST