Vics in box seat to secure Shield final

ANOTHER dominant day of Sheffield Shield cricket has seen Victoria move into the box seat to secure a spot in this season’s final. The visitors rocketed to a first innings lead at the WACA yesterday before Scott Boland struck late to leave Western Australia at 3-88 come stumps, as many runs in arrears.

The key wicket of Cameron Bancroft (31) was prized within the last six overs of play, leaving Hilton Cartwright (34*) to now do much of the heavy lifting as the match turns past halfway. The latter will resume alongside nightwatchman Corey Rocchiccioli (0*) on day three.

Victoria started the day on 2-71 with Western Australia’s modest first innings total of 122 firmly in its sights. Marcus Harris (84) got the ball rolling, before a 112-run fourth-wicket partnership between Matt Short (82) and Campbell Kellaway (64) helped guide the Vics to 298.

The lead could have been far more comprehensive, but Victoria lost its last six wickets for just 65 runs. Cameron Gannon claimed 4-93 to head WA’s weakened attack, while Hilton Cartwright‘s six-over cameo yielded a crucial 3-14.

Western Australia has already secured a home final, but Victoria will hope to carry on with a big win in order to make its temporary hold on second spot permanent.

Beau Webster had a monster all-round day | Image Credit: Getty Images

Meanwhile in Hobart, Tasmania is currently quashing Queensland’s hopes of a berth in the decider. The Bulls ended day two on 6-180, still 299 runs behind Tasmania’s first innings total of 7d-479. Max Bryant (62* off 64) is the visitors’ last hope, and will resume on day three alongside Gurinder Sandhu (24).

With Victoria edging close to victory against WA, the Bulls need to reach 303 runs within 100 overs of their first batting innings in order to gain the bonus points ascendancy. That target requires 123 runs in 50s overs, with just four wickets remaining.

Their hopes of a vital away win have already suffered enormous blows, with frontline seamer Michael Neser ruled out in the warmup before day one, while Mark Steketee has pulled up lame with a hip complaint.

There are no such issues for Tasmania, who look primed to play spoiler to Queensland’s season. Beau Webster completed a monster all-round day, finishing unbeaten on 168 with the bat before jagging 2-26 with the ball.

At the other end upon the Tigers’ declaration was Jarrod Freeman, who notched a career-high 63*. Jackson Bird then poured salt into the visitors’ wounds, snaring two quick wickets to have Queensland fall to 2-13 within three overs. The ship has since steadied, but remains far from invulnerable.

Jack Edwards notched his second Shield century | Image Credit: via Cricket Australia

South Australia and New South Wales are also battling it out at Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide, in what is essentially the final round’s dead rubber match. The Blues are looking to avoid only their second ever winless season, and compiled 9d-477 after being sent in to bat.

Jack Edwards notched his second Shield century, working to 138 before falling to Nathan McAndrew, who claimed 6-97 for the Redbacks. Ben Dwarshuis (60*) finished unbeaten, while opener Ryan Hackney (78) and gloveman Matthew Gilkes (60) also peeled off half-centuries in the big total.

South Australia is 3-134 heading into day three, with Daniel Drew (51*) central to the response. With seven wickets in hand, the Redbacks remain 313 runs behind in what could potentially be a high-scoring affair.

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