South Australia win instant Shield classic

The West End Redbacks have won an instant classic against Queensland in their Marsh Sheffield Shield clash at the Gabba, taking ten wickets on the final day to win by three runs in an absolutely thrilling contest.

The win is the second narrowest win by runs in South Australia’s history, behind only a two-run victory over Western Australia at Adelaide Oval in 1999/2000.

Jordan Buckingham was the hero in the dying overs, taking the final three wickets to seal a remarkable triumph, but the win was built on a nine-wicket performance from Nathan McAndrew and twin centuries to Henry Hunt and Nathan McSweeney.

Queensland skipper Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns took the game to the wire on the final day, putting on a 168-run partnership to have the Bulls in a strong position, but when Harry Nielsen gloved a tough chance to force Burns’ departure, the Redbacks took control.

The final eight wickets fell for 90 runs, with two wickets in an over to McSweeney completely turning the tide of the contest, before Buckingham’s final three sealed a remarkable victory.

Celebrating his 40th First-Class century, Khawaja was immense on the final day, bringing up triple figures from 208 deliveries before being the 10th wicket to fall, sparking jubilant celebrations from the South Australian side.

Back to the beginning of the match and it was a strong start for South Australia after being sent in to bat, with openers Hunt and Jake Carder putting on 79 for the first wicket in overcast conditions.

McSweeney then joined Hunt with the score 2-100 and the two put on a record third-wicket stand by a South Australian pair at the Gabba, amassing 212 runs to surpass the previous mark set by Greg Blewett and Darren Lehmann in 2001/02.

Hunt was not to be dismissed until he had compiled his highest First-Class score of 162, also the third-highest score by a South Australian opener at the Gabba, while McSweeney was undefeated on 112 when South Australia declared at tea on day two with 5-359 on the board.

Day three brought mixed results for both sides, with McAndrew running through Queensland’s strong batting line-up to collect figures of 6-41, including the key wickets of Burns and Khawaja.

The Bulls were bowled out for 238 to give the Redbacks a 121-run first innings lead.

South Australia was unable to lock down the advantage however, losing consistent wickets as the shadows lengthened to be 8-131 at stumps, a lead of 252 heading into the final day.

A mix of pace and spin did the job for Queensland, highlighted by four wickets to Gurinder Sandhu and three to leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson.

Wrapping up the South Australian tail quickly on the fourth morning, Queensland began their second innings requiring 273-runs for victory.

McAndrew and Harry Conway got the Redbacks off to a flyer to have the home side 2-11, but then Khawaja and Burns took over, joining forces for a tide-turning 168-run partnership.

Showing his prowess with not just the bat but also the ball, McSweeney dragged the Redbacks right back into the contest with two huge wickets in an over, trapping both Jimmy Peirson and Michael Neser in front to have his side believing.

Young quick Buckingham then stepped up to the plate, matching McSweeney’s feat to send Sandhu and Mark Steketee back to the sheds in the same over, leaving South Australia needing just one wicket for a stunning triumph.

Khawaja farmed the strike beautifully as the overs and runs required slowly drained away, but after celebrating his century, Khawaja was disconsolate as he lost his bails to Buckingham, bringing one of the great Sheffield Shield battles to a close and securing the Redbacks a famous victory.

The win means the Redbacks now sit second on the Marsh Sheffield Shield ladder, ahead of an away match against Western Australia next week.

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