Blues claim Big Bash Final spot
NSW have qualified to host the final of the domestic Twenty20 cricket competition by beating Victoria by two runs in the last round robin match at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.
Set 129 for victory, Victoria needed 16 to win off the final over.
Victorian paceman Shane Harwood hit the first ball from spinner Stephen O'Keefe (1-31 off four) for six and scored two off each of the next three balls.
However, Harwood was run out by wicketkeeper Daniel Smith off the fifth ball and with Victoria requiring a boundary off the last delivery, Dirk Nannes was restricted to just a single with the Bushrangers finishing at 9-126.
NSW will host the final at ANZ Stadium next Saturday, while Victoria will travel to Brisbane to play Queensland in Wednesday's preliminary final.
The result also guarantees NSW a place in the lucrative Indian Champions League tournament later this year.
A sizzling opening spell from Nannes and a breakthrough innings by youngster Aaron Finch appeared to have steered Victoria towards victory.
However some tight bowling from pacemen Doug Bollinger (0-12 off four), Mark Cameron (1-17 off four) and Aaron Bird (2-25 off four) allied to some desperate fielding and panicky batting to turn the match around.
Four Victorians were run out, including two in one over.
Finch (48 off 46) whose highest score in two previous Twenty20 games for Victoria was just eight, profited from a dropped catch by Daniel Smith when he was on one and anchored the Bushrangers' chase.
Victoria was reeling at 4-62 after 11 overs following two run outs in an over.
However some big hitting from Finch and wicketkeeper Adam Crosthwaite (20 off 14) produced 30 runs off two overs.
Crosthwaite's dismissal by Bird followed by an over from paceman Cameron, which gleaned only two runs, gave NSW the initiative which they maintained through the final overs.
Nannes (4-11 off four) ensured Victoria would chase a modest target, with the Blues restricted to 8-129 after he produced one of the tidiest and impressive performances in the four-season history of the domestic competition.
He removed Moises Henriques (1), Stephen Smith (4) and Ben Rohrer (7) in a devastating opening spell of 3-9 off three overs, which left the Blues teetering at 3-28.
Captain Simon Katich (35 off 26) swiped three legside sixes to keep the scoreboard ticking along until he was dismissed right at the halfway point of the innings to leave NSW at 5-67.
Veteran Dominic Thornely (36 not out off 36) and Daniel Smith (19 off 16) gave the second half of the innings some respectability.
Nannes claimed one more wicket in his final over and was well supported by spinners John Holland (1-21 off four) and Bryce McGain (0-18 off three) who was making his first appearance of the season for the Bushrangers after returning from a shoulder injury.
Victoria struggled to score early on against some fast accurate bowling from Bollinger and Cameron.
Cameron removed dangerous Victorian captain Brad Hodge (8 off 6), off the final ball of the second over, when following through he hit the stumps with a diving throw.
Fellow opener Aidan Blizzard (5) was trapped lbw by Cameron, but Finch and Robert Quiney (21 off 19) added 44 and appeared to put Victoria in control until both Quiney and Andrew McDonald (0) were both run out within three balls.