Adelaide, Feb 2: Adelaide Strikers beat Melbourne Renegades by just one run in a nail-biting climax to set up a home Big Bash League final against Hobart Hurricanes.
Kieron Pollard needed three to win or two off the final ball from Ben Laughlin to take a tense semi-final into a Super Over but failed to deny his former team a place in their first BBL decider at Adelaide Oval on Sunday (February 4).
Pollard failed to make contact with Laughlin's last delivery, prompting jubilant scenes and a crescendo of noise from the Strikers fans who used to worship the West Indies all-rounder.
Travis Head, released from Australia duty to captain the Strikers, made a brilliant 85 not out off 57 balls and the in-form Jake Weatherald struck 57 from 43 balls in Adelaide's total of 178-5.
Marcus Harris top scored with 45 for the Strikers but was dismissed by Head, while spin sensation Rashid Khan took 1-28 in his final match of the tournament before jetting off for Afghanistan duty.
Jake Lehmann breathed a huge sigh of relief after dropping both Dwayne Bravo (26) and Pollard, who was unbeaten on 29 along with Tom Cooper (36 from 29) as the Renegades suffered a heart-breaking defeat.
RENEGADES FAIL TO WEATHER STORM
Weatherald came into the last-four contest in inspired form and that continued as he made a third half-century in four innings.
The 23-year-old opener and Head set the Strikers well on the way to posting an imposing target with a second-wicket stand of 104 in only 12.4 overs.
Weatherald dispatched Cooper over the ropes and found the boundary on another seven occasions in an excellent knock before falling to Pollard from the final ball of the 14th over.
MELBOURNE RUN COMES TO A HEAD
Head fell just four short of a one-day hundred in Australia's only victory of the series against England and delivered again under pressure at the same venue.
The skipper hammered Bravo over midwicket for six in the final over and struck eight boundaries, keeping the Strikers motoring as they posted a challenging target.
Head then played a key role with the ball, sending the dangerous Bravo on his way when the all-rounder tried to slash him through the off side but was caught by a diving Jono Dean.
LEHMANN OFF THE HOOK
Lehmann's heart must have been racing faster than anyone when Laughlin stood at his mark to bowl the final over with the Renegades needing 13 to win.
The Strikers batsman put Bravo down on 15 and watched him smash the next ball into the stands before totally misjudged a skier from Pollard when he had only eight.
Pollard was unable to punish the Australia head coach's son, swinging and missing at a Laughlin delivery which was in the slot but went through to wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen as the batsmen went through for a single.