Sydney Sixers batsman Brad Haddin runs between the wickets on October 26, 2012 during a semi-final Champions League T20 (CLT20) match against the Sydney Sixers at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. Photo: Stephane de Sakutin
PAT CUMMINS turned from villain to hero as the Sydney Sixers climbed out of a hole the teenager helped dig to beat South African franchise the Titans by two wickets in a last-ball thriller and advance to the final of the Champions League.
The win, however, could be soured by a thumb injury to captain Brad Haddin, who will have scans on Saturday morning after being struck while keeping.
Less than a year after hitting the winning runs for Australia on Test debut, the teenager was again in the thick of the action, scrambling through for a bye on his hands and knees to see the Sixers home in arguably the match of the tournament.
The Sixers will meet Highveld in Sunday's final for the right to take home the $US2.5 million winner's cheque.
Just when it appeared the Sixers would be making a shock exit from the tournament, in came the seemingly nerveless 19-year-old to be the magenta machine's unlikely hero.
Chasing a difficult 164 for victory, the Sixers had slumped to 7-132 in the 17th over - still requiring 32 runs from the final 23 balls to win.
The equation was reduced to eight from the last over after Cummins, who had earlier been smashed for 51 runs from his four overs, crashed a thunderous six in the penultimate over of the game.
After watching senior partner Ben Rohrer, who made a vital 21, mistime a drive on the second ball, it was left to Cummins.
After being gifted a wide, he managed to get either his bat or his body behind the next two balls to garner three runs. He then called Mitchell Starc through for a leg bye, leaving him on strike with one required off the last ball.
Cummins was not expecting a slower-ball bouncer and missed then nearly collided with de Villiers, losing his feet, as a shy at the stumps from the wicketkeeper drifted well wide.
Amid the mayhem, Cummins crawled through to the other end.
"We got through on our knees, literally," said Steve O'Keefe. "I think good sides can win without playing their best cricket, that's the most positive thing to take out of the game."
Cummins had owed his team plenty. The Sixers were well on top deep into the Titans' innings however the complexion of the game dramatically changed in the 17th over, bowled by Cummins, when all-rounder David Wiese decided to free his arms and swing for dear life.
Wiese smashed an unbeaten 61 off 28 balls, 56 of which came off his last 19 balls, as the Titans creamed a staggering 72 runs off the final four overs.
And Cummins was the first to feel the heat, conceding 35 from his final two overs.
Moises Henriques was also brought down to earth with a thud by Wiese. Of the 23 runs swiped by the Titans in Henriques's fourth and final over, 19 flowed from the bat of Wiese, who crashed two sixes and a four.
Even Starc, normally so reliable at the death, came to grief as he was punished for 15 from the final over of the innings.
In reply, Sixers openers Michael Lumb and Steve O'Keefe - the team's third opening pair in as many games after Shane Watson's departure - were not daunted by the imposing run chase.
So well were the pair playing they swung the match firmly back in the Sixers' favour with a rapid 54-run partnership.
But just as Lumb threatened to take the game away from the Titans he failed to pick up a slower ball from Alfonso Thomas and holed out to cover.
The Titans struck again in the ninth over when O'Keefe tried to slog the spin of Eden Links over mid-wicket but missed and was bowled for 32.
The Sixers had needed a relatively manageable 79 off 70 balls and the costliness of O'Keefe's dismissal was to become evident in the next over when Haddin and Nic Maddinson fell off consecutive balls.
Smith, the culprit in Maddinson's run out, departed in similar fashion - left stranded midway up the pitch after hesitating at Moises Henriques's call.
Henriques was gifted a life on five but just as it appeared he was about to take the game by the scruff of the neck he mistimed a straight drive and was caught at long-on for 28.