Few, if any, domestic cricket tragics would have given the Central Districts Stags the opportunity of coming within the range of an attainable target in Dunedin, never mind a sniffing chance of victory today.
But the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags did the unthinkable when they overcame gargantuan odds to scrape to a two-wicket victory over Otago Volts on the final day of the Plunket Shield match at the Otago University Oval shortly before 6pm.
If the William Young-skippered visitors had underachieved in their first innings through the middle and lower order, they certainly made up for it in their second dig when they eclipsed a total of 332 runs, taking any guess work out of a sporting declaration from Otago captain Rob Nicol.
The CD pair of Black Caps strike bowler Adam Milne and the country's undisputed king of spin Ajaz Patel engineered the dramatic collapse of the remaining Volts batsmen, mustering only 16 runs when they resumed batting in their second innings this morning on 161-5.
Milne and Patel claimed a five-wicket bag each in that innings.
But it was Black Caps batting maestro Ross Taylor, who scored 90 runs at No 4, and No 3 Young, carving 83 runs, that provided an ideal platform for wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver (56 runs off 45 balls, including 11 boundaries) at No 7 and Navin Patel, clipping a run a ball (26), to ensure the Stags weren't going to run out of wickets.
No 5 Jesse Ryder offered national selectors another timely attribute as he anchored the run chase with a measured unbeaten 31 runs.
Taylor said while CD had pulled off a Houdini act they were never short of confidence for the most part of the day, after Otago declared at 513-7 in their first innings.
"Especially with Wellington going out there to have a great start to the season, you know they'll want to play for results and we're no different," said the 31-year-old who forged a 166-run third-wicket partnership with Young.
He put it down to a great team performance with the Milne-Ajaz Patel bowling attack who had snatched the advantage of the declaration from the hosts after much conjecture over a wicket that promised a lot but, in the opinion of CD, offered little to the bowlers.
"If we look back at the whole game there were a lot of good performances but the way Milney and Jazz bowled to take that away from them - because we knew they were going to come hard at us in the morning but you've still got to take wickets and we did."
Taylor, who will not play in the next round against unbeaten leaders Firebirds (on 76 points to CD's 63) because he's off to the Black Caps' camp, said it would have been nice for he and Young to go on to make centuries but saluted the Volts for bowling to their field placements.
"We were still keeping up with the run rate but when you lose three wickets you have some doubts briefly," he said but commended his teammates for standing up at different times to stay on the front foot and, hopefully, take that momentum into the next game.
He said Ryder was the ideal anchor of their memorable innings which was indicative of Malan's boys coming of age.
"There's no better way to do it then to have an international-calibre batsman at the other end counting you down," he said, adding the Stags batsmen had reflected maturity in doing justice to his presence.
The chief destroyer for Otago was Jacob Duffy, taking 5-59, so did he take Taylor and co by surprise with his medium pacers?
"The wicket was very two-paced as you would expect on a slow Dunedin pitch so he got the ball to reverse right from the start this morning and on the other day," he said, adding it wasn't easy but Duffy adroitly put the ball in the right areas long enough for it to pay dividends.
It was Milne's second five-wicket bag but the 11th for Ajaz Patel, who helped Ryder with an unbeaten seven runs, to give national convenor of selectors Gavin Larsen something else to chew on.
Taylor, who relishes returning to his CD roots, said he arrived a little jet-lagged two Fridays ago so it was nice to get some overs under his belt.
"It was probably a bit longer than what I would have liked but it was nice to get acclimatised to red-ball cricket," he said.
If NZ Cricket were looking at making any drastic changes to the domestic red-ball cricket competition, here's a front window display of how exciting first-class, four-day format can be.