NSW survive late scare after Liam Hatcher hat-trick swung the clash heavily in their favour
Nathan Lyon's return to professional cricket was overshadowed by a record-breaking century from his New South Wales skipper Moises Henriques and a first-time hat-trick to fast bowler Liam Hatcher as the Blues completed a clinical Marsh One Day Cup win over South Australia.
Lyon bowled with trademark guile in his comeback from a serious calf injury suffered during this year's Ashes campaign in the UK, and conceded 22 from his first six overs with just two boundaries having been deployed as first-change bowler.
He then came under attack later in the innings when clubbed for consecutive sixes by SA tailender Henry Thornton who smashed a 33-ball half-century, and finished with 0-51 from his nine overs.
"I can't wipe the smile off my face, I'm just over the moon to be back playing competitive cricket, it's something I've missed over the last 14 weeks and it's been a long rehab journey," Lyon said after NSW's 33-run win.
"Bowling in the power-play on a pretty god wicket, the guys were saying it's probably more a seamers' wicket and probably didn’t spin as much as what I'm used to here.
"But I felt like my rhythm was good, energy on the ball was good and I played my role to what I wanted to do.
"Wickets didn’t come, but it's a long summer ahead so hopefully there's a lot of them to come."
Lyon also confirmed he has received an offer to play with an English county outfit next Australia winter when the national men's Test team has no scheduled commitments, but is yet to decide if he'll pursue the opportunity having indicated he wants to continue his international career for at least another four years.
"There's nothing been signed yet, there's an offer on the table from Lancs," said Lyon, who had previously knocked back a chance to play with rival county Hampshire.
"It's something I want to talk to my family about, I also want to have a chat to (Australia men's team coach) Andrew McDonald as well.
"Looking to hopefully to go over and play some county cricket, Lancs is a special county over there and it would be nice to have Jimmy Anderson and I'll tandem with him at the other."
The 36-year-old began his comeback appearance by completing a smart overhead catch at backward point and threw himself about in the field, with his only misstep being the blow he took to the little finger of his bowling hand in the 37th over of SA's chase that forced him from the field for less than 10 minutes.
But it was during that period the game dramatically changed, with Lyon's replacement Nick Larkin (a member of the NSW coaching staff) snaring a catch to remove SA's in-form batter Nathan McSweeney triggering a stunning collapse in which the Redbacks lost 4-8 in seven deliveries.
Three of those wickets came in consecutive balls as Hatcher – having been belted for a huge six by Ben Manenti – extracted revenge by seeing Manenti hole out to deep cover next ball, then had Nathan McAndrew chop-on and Wes Agar caught by the slip fielder brought in for the hat-trick ball.
"That's a career-first … maybe in the backyard, but never in any competitive game of cricket," said the 27-year-old who missed the start of the current season due to the recurrence of a foot injury.
"That's my first one, I started playing when I was nine so it's been a while.
"I've been on a few over the years and they never come off, so I just refused to believe it had happened when he (Agar) nicked it.
"I just shook my head a bit."
NSW's total of 291 was powered by a 71-ball century by Henriques, eclipsing Brad Haddin's 74-ball effort in 2001 as the Blues' fastest in One Day Cup competition.
The 36-year-old reached his fourth domestic one-day century – and his first in more than five years – with a flurry of power-hitting at the back end of the Blues' innings.
Henriques had scored at a run-a-ball to post a half-century as his team made steady progress on a pitch that exhibited 'tennis ball' bounce and with a heavily grassed outfield restricting the number of boundaries.
But when Jason Sangha missed a full toss in the 45th over, leaving NSW 5-225 and eyeing a total not far north of 250, the skipper took matters into his own hands and launched a brutal attack.
Henriques second 50 arrived from 21 deliveries of which just three were dot balls, and featured five sixes including a couple of stunning inside-out blows launched over extra cover.
Needing to pull off the biggest run chase in a domestic one-dayer at Adelaide Oval since 2010-11, SA were deprived of firepower due to the absence of opener Jake Fraser-McGurk who earlier this month smashed 100 from 29 deliveries to set a new global list-A benchmark.
Fraser-McGurk reported leg soreness in the wake of SA's Marsh Sheffield Shield win over NSW earlier in the week and, having experienced discomfort in the warm-up for today's game, was withdrawn from the starting XI and is in some doubt for the next Shield fixture against Western Australia starting Thursday.
In his absence, SA's innings struggled for the exception of Thornton's rearguard effort and Henry Hunt's 75 (off 95 balls) at the top of the order.
That task might have proved even more daunting had Hunt been dismissed on 21, when he swung Will Salzmann to the backward square leg boundary where Hatcher pulled down a well-judged catch to prevent six but was unable to complete the catch as flicked it back while tumbling over the rope.
Today's result consigns winless SA to the bottom of the table and effectively ends their Marsh One Day Cup title having reached the competition final last summer, while NSW climbed to third place ahead of Queensland.
NSW next game against reigning champs WA at Cricket Central in Sydney on Nov 4, while SA meet WA at WACA on Nov 20 in last game before competition enters BBL hiatus.