Warriors struggle to victory over Tigers
Western Australia's season is still alive, despite the Warriors' floundering top order again letting them down, after needing all but one ball to chase down Tasmania's measly 128 in their Twenty20 clash at a packed WACA Ground.
A crowd of over 10,000 had been looking forward to a second successive win in the Big Bash tournament at the halfway point, after Umar Gul and Brett Dorey took three wickets each to restrict the Tigers to 128 from their 20 overs
But with Shaun Marsh (11) and Luke Pomersbach (1) failing in their opening partnership, Luke Ronchi and Adam Voges also disappointed to leave the Warriors on the verge of a demoralising defeat.
When Marcus North was run out, WA's top five had managed just 70 between them - leaving the lesser lights of Aaron Heal and Craig Simmons to try and see the Warriors home.
After Heal's late order hitting left WA needing 14 off the last over to save their season, Simmons smashed the first two balls of Gerard Denton's final over for a four and a huge six to apparently secure the points for the Warriors.
But there was more drama when Heal inexplicably ran himself out with WA four runs shy - only for Gul to trot out to face his one and only ball, and lace it through the covers to take WA level on points with Victoria on the Big Bash ladder.
As the national side still struggles to find the answer to its spinning woes, Western Australia showed the value of the slow bowler in the lightning fast Twenty20 format in bowling out Tasmania.
A combination of Heal, North and Voges bowled a total of nine overs to claim three wickets for 58 runs - with ironically, discarded Test spinner Jason Krejza one of the victims of the Tigers slow death.
If not for Rhett Lockyear's 49 from 34 balls at the top of the innings, and George Bailey's 39 at the conclusion, Tasmania's total would have been even more dismal - attempting to hit too hard too often and missing more often than they connected.
Their first six did not come until the tenth over of the Tigers innings, which had got off to a stuttering start with the dangerous Michael Dighton departing for a duck after an impressive opening spell from Dorey.
With import Gul again doing the job he was brought into to do with figures of 3-21, the sizable crowd did not see the pyrotechnics off the bat they may have expected - but did not care with WA desperate for a win to keep a chance of silverware alive.
That trophy looked a distant hope thought when WA's season-long batting woes again surfaced, with what should have been a routine chase turning into a thriller.
With Marsh opening his knock determined to thrash every ball through the off side, the Test hopeful almost killed umpire Brooks and then George Bailey in the gully - before making Travis Birt put his life on the line to dive forward for an impressive catch.
A struggling Pomersbach survived one confident appeal for a caught behind before giving another chance down leg side to continue his underwhelming season, and when Ronch's failure to clear the boundary was followed by a Voges' brain explosion, WA's chase was plummeting.
Captain North was the key as he had been so often this season - a fact Theo Doropoulos failed to appreciate with his part in the skipper's run out seven runs later.
Needing 31 off the last four overs, Simmons and Heal finally found the momentum both batting performances had lacked - with the former smashing four, six and then three either side of Heal's run out.
And with every Tiger fielder inside the circle for his opening delivery, Gul connected sweetly through the covers to make his acquisition look worth every dollar.