Peter Siddle and the Victorian tail almost pulled off mission impossible on Saturday night but Queensland held their nerve to pick up a tense 11-run JLT One-Day Cup win in Sydney.
The match was drifting to a comfortable Queensland triumph when Victoria slumped to 6-135 chasing 310 but some inspired stroke play from veteran Siddle (62 off 45) , allrounder Matt Short (51 off 49) and quick Chris Tremain (50 off 45) and sent serious panic through the Queensland camp.
Needing 16 to win from the final over, Siddle was bowled trying to scoop Cameron Gannon to end a fantastic match at North Sydney Oval.
"I had a feeling it was going to get close," Queensland captain Usman Khawaja told cricket.com.au after play.
"At the drinks break I told the boys ‘Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. It’s North Sydney. I’ve been in games when we’ve lost from here’.
"I think it was a good experience for a few of the younger guys who haven’t experienced a small ground like this. It's probably why a lot of teams chase."
Victoria captain Peter Handscomb put the loss down to his misfiring top order.
"The top six have got to make runs and we didn’t," he said. "We can’t leave it up to the bowlers to make the bulk of our runs.
"If we had a batter in at the back end there 309 was never going to be enough. If someone from the top six stands up we win this game.
"It’s a bit disappointing albeit the bowlers batted and bowled really well."
The victory was set up by half-centuries to skipper Usman Khawaja (85), Matthew Renshaw (74) and Marnus Labuschagne (52), while a quick-fire 27-ball 46 from wicketkeeper-batsman Jimmy Peirson rocketed the total to a match-winning score.
Opening pair Khawaja and Renshaw put on 149 for the wicket to set a solid foundation for the lower order to launch from. Labuschagne put his hand up for shot of the tournament with an outrageous six, while Ben Cutting’s first-ball maximum went out of the ground.
Siddle continued to impress in his cricket comeback, bowling seven frugal overs on the trot with the new ball and finished with 0-33 from his allotment of 10 overs.
Fawad Ahmed (3-44) was the pick of the Bushrangers bowlers, the leg-spinner claimed the first three wickets of the innings with guile and googlies.
In reply, Victoria’s chase was rocked by the dismissals of Marcus Harris (0) and Cameron White (two) inside the first 10 balls.
Travis Dean (40) and returning captain Peter Handscomb (48) put on 68 for the third wicket before Dean was castled by allrounder Ben Cutting.
Cutting removed the next batsman but without a dismissal; Will Pucovski was struck on the helmet by a bouncer, and after he received immediate attention from Handscomb and match doctor John Orchard, the youngster left the field.
He returned at the wicket of Seb Gotch (17) but lasted only a few balls before he dragged on a Mitchell Swepson long-hop to be out for five.
Towering allrounder Short, who opened the bowling with his off-spin, kept the Bushrangers hopes alive with a mature knock and three hefty sixes.
Tremain and Siddle continued the destruction and while the latter admirably pushed Victoria towards an improbable win almost singelhandedly, Gannon removed him in the final over with the Bushrangers still needing 12 runs to win.
"It’s good batting," Khawaja said of Victoria's comeback. "You’ve got to give credit where credit’s due.
"We didn’t bowl too badly. I think we bowled to our plans.
"They went positive a lot earlier than I thought they would, I thought they would’ve taken it a lot deeper.
"Tremain and Short went just before the 40th because we only had four (fielders) out.
"They went early then, it paid off, they got a pretty good partnership. Siddsy (Siddle) came out and batted really well.
"Those guys batted really well to get Victoria back in the game and we had to stay composed to win it at the end."
Earlier, Khawaja compiled his first half-century since January as his Bulls posted 6-309, the left-hander calm and composed in scoring his first fifty since the New Year’s Test against Pakistan at the SCG and his highest score since the 97 in the preceding Test in Melbourne.