Centurion: Aaron Finch carried his bat through the innings for Victoria and played the knock of the tournament, hitting an unbeaten 93 off 60 balls to chase down a target of 165 runs posted by Central Stags at the SuperSport Park on Wednesday. His knock was punctuated by 11 fours and 3 sixes and brought about Victoria's much-needed first win in the Champions League.
Aiming to turn the tables, the teams suffered illness worries ahead of the game. The big blow for Victoria came in way of Brad Hodge being unavailable. On the other hand, Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan woke up sick for the Stags.
A win for either team could prolong their stay in the tournament, making this match important for both of them. The toss went Bushrangers' way who chose to bat first.
After being asked to bowl, Peter Siddle struck twice in the first over for his team, taking out Peter Ingram (0) and Timothy Weston (2), which left the Kiwi team with a recovery job early in the match.
The experienced duo of Adam Sinclair and Jamie How tried to prevent any further casualties but could do it for only 27 more runs. A slash off Sinclair (14), while facing John Hastings, brought out a dive by wicketkeeper Mathew Wade who pouched it nicely, leaving the Stags reeling at 30/3.
Sinclair's dismissal followed the recovery phase Stags were hoping for, with George worker providing the missing thrust in the Stags. In fact, Workers' intent rubbed off to skipper How whose unconvincing knock started showing signs of coming back on track.
The partnership swelled up to 53 but unfortunately that's where it ended for the Stags with Worker (29 off 25) being snapped up by the spinner Bryce McGain.
But what transpired after that was close to a nightmare for the Victorian team. Skipper Jamie How - getting no support from the other hand - took matters in his hand and launched a counter-attack that saw him amass 77 runs in 55 balls, studded with 10 fours and 3 sixes.
The 18th over hurt the Victoria team the most where Stags notched up a boggling 28 runs. The momentum provided by How finally saw his team reach a competitive 165 runs in their allotted 20 overs.
For Victoria, Peter Siddle was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Clint McKay, John Hastings and Bryce McGain took a wicket apiece.
The Bushrangers' openers looked methodical in their chase and notched up a partnership of 40 runs, when, in the fifth over, Rob Quiney (15) was dismissed by Seth Rance that was soon followed by the suicidal run-out of Mathew Wade (9), reducing the Australian team to 49/2.
That left Skipper David Hussey do a Jamie How and take the team out of troubled waters. Aaron Finch, on the other end, looked pretty comfortable during his stay and was scoring better than a-run-a-ball. He soon registered his half century that firmly put Victoria in charge of the chase.
Fifty partnership came after Finch's half century but it was soon followed by the breakthrough Stags were after. A kicked-up delivery took the edge of Hussey's bat for a simple catch for wicketkeeper Timothy Weston, bringing the match back in balance.
It was now up to all-rounder Andrew McDonald to give Finch the support he needed to take Victoria home. But How's bowlers didn't support him and gifted a few easy runs away by way of bowling full-tosses.
With 25 needed of 12 balls, it could still have gone either way. But wickets in hands and Finch determined to finish it himself, there was not much Stags could have done. He hit the first ball of 19th over for a six, making his intentions pretty clear. Thirteen runs came off the penultimate over and the Aussie team needed almost a similar over to end up victorious.
A four off the first ball edged Bushrangers closer. The man of the moment - Aaron Finch - stamped his authority on the match by hitting a six over long-on to finish it off and bring about leaps and hugs in the dug-out.
Victoria lost their first game to Warriors by 28 runs while the Stags were outdone by Chennai in a one-sided game that they lost by 57 runs.