Brilliant centuries from Peter Handscomb and Jonathan Merlo set the platform for Victoria, who lost the toss and were asked to bat first beneath perfect blue sky. A young bowling attack featuring Will Sutherland, Sam Elliott, Brody Couch and Todd Murphy then bowled their side to victory despite a strong partnership from Redbacks skipper Travis Head and debutant Ryan Gibson.
The game began in unusual circumstances when Sam Harper was given out for obstruction in the early overs after moving to deflect a ball thrown by Daniel Worrall that was destined for the stumps. Defending back to the bowler, Harper was well out of his crease when the ball struck his pads, prompting appeals from the South Australian fieldsmen. A delay ensued as the umpires referred the matter to the match referee, and Harper was ultimately adjudged to have obstructed the field illegally and given his marching orders.
Nic Maddinson then began flaying the ball to all parts, despite being in clear discomfort after a blow to the ribs from a vicious Wes Agar delivery. Sam Kerber managed to draw a false shot from Maddinson when he was on 34, but the visitors would not come together in celebration again for another 29 overs.
Handscomb and Merlo were sublime for Victoria, compiling a partnership of 205 from 171 deliveries as they built a total that would prove too many for South Australia to chase down. Combining for 23 fours and four sixes, the duo were unstoppable as they did damage throughout the middle overs that the Redbacks were unable to repair.
It was a strong start with the blade from the visitors however as they sought their maiden win of the season, but when Jake Weatherald fell for 31 from 36, quickly followed by fellow opener Alex Carey for 32 from 42, their innings was in desperate need of a partnership. The call was answered by Head and Gibson, who put on 86 in 13 overs before the skipper fell for a thrilling 77 from 55 balls.
Gibson then lost his bails to Murphy for 48, replaced by Harry Nielsen who displayed a full range of strokes on his way to 51 from 40 deliveries, but their efforts were not quite enough to drag the Redbacks over the line as they lost their final game of the season by 21 runs.
Matt Short took 3/44 for Victoria, including two in two balls late to seal the game. Merlo also finished with three wickets, while Elliott claimed two and Sutherland and Murphy took one apiece.
08 April 2021