Rapid Finch ton puts Victoria on brink of massive win

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SHEFFIELD SHIELD, 2017-18

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Finch smashed an unbeaten 151 off just 122 balls. © Getty

NSW vs Tasmania, Sydney

The important match between NSW and Tasmania is headed for a draw after another rain-affected day at the SCG.

After two sessions were lost on Sunday (February 25), the morning session on day three was wiped out followed by steely batting from Tasmania to all but ensure a result is highly unlikely. When play finally started, Tasmania resumed at 79-1 and still trailing by 370 runs but a patient century from opener Beau Webster stymied the Blues’ push for quick wickets.

The Blues started well when spinner Steve O’Keefe picked up captain George Bailey (34) early but No.4 Jake Doran (86 not out) combined well with Webster to blunt the attack. The pair were involved in an unbroken partnership of 160 from 65 overs with Webster finishing 102 not out from 258 deliveries, a knock that featured nine boundaries.

The second-placed Tigers seemed content to play for a draw as they stonewalled a frustrated NSW attack, who couldn’t make any inroads. A draw would keep the Tigers ahead of third-placed NSW with two rounds remaining.

The struggling Blues have been looking to rebound after two straight losses following the resumption of the Shield.

Brief Scores: Tasmania 240-2 (Beau Webster 102 not out; Steve O’Keefe 1-40) trail NSW 449-8 declared (Moises Henriques 131 not out; Tom Rogers 4-88) by 209 runs.

Western Australia vs Victoria, Perth

An incredible century from Aaron Finch and another stellar Victorian bowling effort has propelled the Bushrangers to the brink of a massive victory over Western Australia at the WACA.

Chasing a massive 469, WA are in ruins at 161-8 at stumps on day three. First innings destroyer Chris Tremain claimed three wickets and he was well supported by fellow seamers Scott Boland (3-44) and Peter Siddle (2-39). Twenty20 sensation D’Arcy Short’s poor match was complete when he fell to Siddle for 1 and none of the other specialist WA batsmen fared much better.

An extra half an hour was granted with Victoria needing just two wickets but WA wicketkeeper Josh Inglis blasted a rapid-fire counterattacking half-century and had support from tailender Matthew Kelly to ensure the match went into the final day.

Scoring his first Shield century in 16 months, Finch smashed 151 not out from just 122 balls to highlight a dominant Victorian performance on day three. His astounding innings included 16 boundaries and seven sixes, as he reached his century in 95 balls and then took just 26 balls to go to 150.

Finch turned the match around after Victoria had wobbled at 153-5 – with a lead of 243 runs – in the morning session as a thrilling finish loomed. However, Finch took over and shared in a century stand with skipper Cameron White to take the game out of WA’s reach.

A rare bright spot for WA was the bowling of allrounder Marcus Stoinis who claimed 4-82 to go with his three-wicket haul in the first innings.

Last-placed Victoria are on the cusp of their second victory since the resumption of the Shield meaning the three-time reigning champions’ dreams of reaching a fourth straight final have been revived. With a second straight thrashing on the cards, WA will slip to last place and almost certainly be out of the reckoning to end their Shield drought extending to 1998-99.

Brief Scores: Western Australia 302 & 161-8 (Josh Inglis 54 not out; Scot Boland 3-44) trail Victoria 392 & 378-8 declared (Aaron Finch 151 not out; Marcus Stoinis 4-82) by 307 runs.

South Australia vs Queensland, Adelaide

Shield leaders Queensland are headed for a big victory over South Australia as they close in on a spot in the final after a dominant day two at the Adelaide Oval.

After posting a seemingly middling first innings of 342, the Bulls attack ripped apart SA’s batting order in just 51.3 overs. The Redbacks made a lowly 162, a total that looked unlikely when they were a pitiful 89-7. A run-a-ball 57 from No.9 Adam Zampa saved the home side from complete embarrassment.

Seamer Michael Neser (4-32) ripped apart the middle-order with superb swing bowling highlighted by a cracker to clean bowl wicketkeeper Alex Carey for a duck. He picked up four wickets in as many overs, while spinner Mitchell Swepson (3-24) cleaned up the tail.

With a massive 180-run advantage, Queensland lost their openers early, including first innings centurion Matthew Renshaw who fell for 12. Emerging left-arm star Nick Winter continued his outstanding start to his First-Class career by claiming both wickets.

Marnus Labuschagne (25 not out) and Charlie Hemphrey (9 not out) safely made it to stumps to ensure the Bulls enjoy an almost impregnable position.

It was a disappointing performance from the Redbacks after they started the day’s play positively by claiming Queensland’s final two wickets quickly but things went downhill from there.

Queensland has leapfrogged into the top of the ladder since the resumption of the Shield, while SA jumped to fourth after an upset road victory over NSW last round.

Brief Scores: Queensland 342 & 75-2 (Marnus Labuschagne 25 not out; Nick Winter 2-17) lead South Australia 162 (Adam Zampa 57; Michael Neser 4-32) by 255 runs

© Cricbuzz

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