Manchester Originals reached the men’s Hundred eliminator after beating Oval Invincibles by six wickets, with just a ball to spare, in a thrilling contest at Old Trafford.
In a game where the winning side would finish second and the losing side eliminated, Invincibles recovered from 23-3 to post 143-9.
Captain Sam Billings top-scored for Invincibles with a terrific 53 off 33 balls, but it was Ireland seamer Josh Little who stole the show, taking a superb 5-13 from his 20 deliveries.
In reply, Wayne Madsen, who successfully overturned an lbw decision on his first ball, scored an unbeaten 53 off 39 deliveries as Originals chased down the target in a tense finale.
For the majority of the innings, Originals looked in control. But with 25 still needed off 14 balls, Invincibles seemed to be clawing their way back, before Ashton Turner hit Sam Curran for a six down the ground, followed by a four into the leg side, to alleviate the pressure.
The game then turned again when Turner was brilliantly run out by Billings for 26.
The home side needed 11 runs from the final five deliveries. The unlikely scenario of a tie, in which both teams could be eliminated and Birmingham Phoenix would progress, was becoming a real possibility.
Then came one of the most significant moments of the game. Paul Walter launched the 96th ball of the innings, bowled by Matthew Milnes, into the leg side. Will Jacks, fielding on the boundary, could only parry it over for six.
With one run needed off two balls, Walter scrambled the single needed, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Originals will play London Spirit on Friday in Southampton, with the winner facing group leaders Trent Rockets in Saturday’s final at Lord’s.