Usman Khawaja was at the centre of heartbreaking scenes on Thursday as Queensland collapsed in the Sheffield Shield and lost to South Australia by just three runs. Cruising at 2-179 while chasing 273 for victory, the Bulls lost their last eight wickets for just 90 runs to fall agonisingly short.
Khawaja scored a brilliant 114 but was the last man dismissed when Queensland needed just four for victory. It marked just the fifth time in Sheffield Shield history that a match has been decided by three runs or fewer, and the first since 2003 when NSW beat WA by two runs.
The final day of the match ebbed and flowed, with South Australia bowled out early in the morning for 151, setting the hosts 273 to win. Khawaja, who came to the crease at 2-11, took his side to the brink of victory with more than five overs remaining but was bowled by Jordan Buckingham for the final wicket.
"Amazing. Certainly the best game of cricket I have ever been involved in. What a moment," Buckingham said after taking 3-83. "I kept fighting. I feel like one of my strengths is to never give in. The boys bowled absolutely brilliant. (Khawaja) is an international class player and he showed that today. He was outstanding."
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 9, 2023
Queensland were in dire trouble early in their run chase before Khawaja and Joe Burns (who made 91) put on 168 for the third wicket. Khawaja hadn't played in the past two Sheffield Shield matches due to a 'workload' directive from Cricket Australia, but didn't miss a beat when he returned.
Burns fell nine runs short of his century when he nicked Nathan McAndrew (3-60) through to wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen. The Bulls still appeared to be in control at 4-219, but spinner Nathan McSweeney turned the game on its head when he dismissed Jimmy Peirson (13) and Michael Neser (0) - both lbw.
All-rounder Jack Wildermuth was dismissed by McAndrew for 21 with 28 runs required, before Gurinder Sandhu (0) and Mark Steketee (4) both threw their wickets away as the pressure mounted. When Mitch Swepson came to the crease at No.11 the Bulls still needed 23 to win, and Khawaja farmed the strike to get them within three.
Usman Khawaja falls short as cricket world left stunned
But Buckingham finally claimed the prized scalp of the Test opener, sparking wild scenes of celebration from the Redbacks players. "No way, you cannot believe it," one commentator said.
McAndrew was the hero for South Australia after taking nine wickets for the match. "He is a serious player. Within our group he is rated so bloody highly," Buckingham said of McAndrew. "There is no doubt he will be in a baggy green one day."
Queensland coach Wade Seccombe said: "They went in with three quicks, and for our game plan knowing that we wanted to take them deep into the game. But McAndrew kept coming at us. He was the one. He looks like he's got a pretty big motor.
"They're definitely a team that is on the move at the minute. They're getting a little bit of fight about them, and I say that respectfully, but it's something that probably hasn't been there in previous years."
Not a bad wicket to snag to win the game by 3 runs. Khawaja was on 114. https://t.co/STcePnPNiz
— Ryan Fitzgerald (@FitzySA) November 9, 2023
how good is Shield cricket this year, out of this world!
— Anthony Kernich (@AntJKernich) November 9, 2023
— Rahul (@Iitianrahul678) November 9, 2023
What a Thriller to Call. Epic finish. Love calling the best domestic cricket comp in the world.
— John Devine (@JohnJackdevine) November 9, 2023
That two wickets in McSweeney's over changed the game completely. Well deserved 👏
— JustMyThoughts (@shaibal_27) November 9, 2023
Good that this wrong decision didn't cost the game for them https://t.co/TDinNBevxH
— Abhishek (@Abhi_Kohli123) November 9, 2023
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