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WA last pair hold on for thrilling draw



Western Australia's final pair of Cameron Gannon and Liam O'Connor survived the final 23 deliveries of an absorbing final day of their Sheffield Shield match against South Australia, holding on for a memorable draw at the WACA Ground on Sunday.


Daniel Worrall and David Grant shared eight wickets between them as WA's second innings chase of 332 became a fight for survival, O'Connor and Gannon denying the Redbacks their first win of the summer in an epic finish under lights.


South Australia earlier took their overnight score of 4-142 to 9-230 before captain Travis Head declared to set up a fantastic finale, Alex Carey (82*) and Harry Nielsen (67) with half centuries and O'Connor claiming three wickets with his leg-spinners after a wicketless effort in the first innings.


It left WA with 75 overs to chase 332, getting through to lunch unscathed at 0-16.


The second session belonged to the Redbacks as five wickets fell, WA moving in to survival mode for the final two hours of the contest.


Whiteman (15) edged to Will Bosisto at second slip from the bowling of Worrall for the second time in the match, before Grant broke the game open for South Australia with a crucial double strike.


The 23 year old removed both first innings centurions Bancroft (30) and Cameron Green (0) to reduce the home side to 3-62, also luring the promoted Josh Inglis (17) in to a mishit that landed in the hands of Henry Hunt at point.


Aaron Hardie became the second duck of the innings when he edged Chadd Sayers behind to wicketkeeper Carey, leaving WA in all sorts of trouble at 5-88.


Captain Shaun Marsh was joined by an injured Hilton Cartwright, who had suffered a lumbar spasm in his back on the third day while fielding to try and defy the rampant Redbacks bowling attack.


The pair survived for the best part of 15 overs before Marsh edged Grant behind having made 45, Matt Kelly (1) falling to Worrall shortly after to leave WA on the brink of outright defeat at 7-122 with 22 overs remaining.


Cartwright was hanging in despite his injury, finding a willing ally in Cameron Gannon as the pair batted in to the final hour of the match.


Just when it looked as though Western Australia had seen off the Redbacks challenge Worrall was reintroduced in to the attack with immediate effect, Cartwright superbly caught at short leg by skipper Head for a 122 ball 25, 35 balls remaining in the contest.


Liam Guthrie fell for a duck 12 balls later to the same bowler, leaving batting novice Liam O'Connor to partner Gannon for the final 23 balls of a pulsating match.


Gannon played out the penultimate over of the game from Worrall, hitting the final ball of the over for four to leave O'Connor on strike for the final over, bowled by Chadd Sayers.


The 27 year old, who headed in to the match with zero runs from four innings at first class level saw off the first five balls of the over with relative ease, leaving it all down to the final delivery after four days and 372 overs of Sheffield Shield cricket.


In an incredible finish O'Connor's defensive prod popped up in the air on the off-side, eluding silly point and falling short of both the slips cordon and the point fielder, South Australian players sinking to their knees as the match was drawn, WA 9-148.


The result means South Australia remain winless after five matches, Western Australia with one win and four draws with three rounds of first class cricket still to be played.


Travis Head was declared player of the match for his first innings 223, one of four players to score centuries in the match along with team mate Henry Hunt (109) and West Australians Bancroft (130) and Green (168*)


The teams meet again in a Marsh One Day Cup match on Tuesday back at the WACA, the first ball scheduled to bowled at 10AM.


IMAGE: ESPN Cricinfo.