Bushrangers hold on for vital win
David Hussey enhanced his status as one of Australia's premier Twenty20 cricketers by sparking Victoria to a seven-run win over Tasmania at the MCG.
Two days after he smacked an unbeaten 70 and took two wickets in the Bushrangers' win over NSW, Hussey produced another brilliant all-round performance to help inflict Tasmania's first defeat of the competition.
Hussey top scored with 54 from 33 balls in the Bushrangers' total of 7-178, and then chimed in with a wicket, two catches and a run out as Victoria bowled the Tigers out for 171 in their 20 overs.
The result drew Victoria level with Tasmania on three wins and a loss, and almost mirrored the outcome of last season's final, when the Bushrangers beat the Tigers by 10 runs.
Both sides are still in the running to reach the final and must wait until Thursday, when Victoria play South Australia (away) and Tasmania travel to Queensland, to know their fate.
Victoria made a great start to the match through opener Aiden Blizzard, who smashed six boundaries in his 25, and then got decent contributions from their three best batsmen.
Hussey continued his outstanding form, Brad Hodge chipped in with 27 and captain Cameron White made 30 in his comeback match after he fractured a foot in November.
In reply Tasmania looked gone when they slumped to 7-118 in the 15th over, with all the recognised batsmen dismissed.
But Brett Geeves built on his 3-36 with the ball by clubbing 28 from 14 balls to give the Tigers a chance of victory.
Geeves smashed Shane Harwood for successive sixes in the 18th over, which left the Tigers needing 21 from their final two overs.
But Dirk Nannes (2-22) bowled a superb 19th over, in which only three runs were scored, and Hussey kept his nerve in the deep to take a catch and then run out Geeves with a long flat throw to wicketkeeper Adam Crosthwaite.
Travis Birt top scored with 40 from 24 balls for the visitors, while Michael Dighton batted well for 31 from 20 at the top of the innings.