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Recent Match Report – West Aust vs Victoria Final 2021/22


WA quicks claim three wickets each as Victoria lose 7 for 73 after Handscomb and Perry half-centuries

Western Australia 386 & 3 for 91 (Whiteman 45*, Boland 2-14) lead Victoria 306 (Handscomb 80, Perry 74, Pucovski 59, Hardie 3-54, Paris 3-95) by 171 runs

Three wickets apiece to Aaron Hardie and Joel Paris sparked a massive Victoria collapse to hand Western Australia the ascendency on the third day of the Sheffield Shield final at the WACA.

Victoria lost 7 for 73 to be all out for 306 after cruising to 3 for 233 just before lunch, butchering an opportunity to claim the bonus point lead after 100 overs and give themselves the chance to claim the Shield title in the event of a drawn match.

Hardie prized out Peter Handscomb for a well-made 80 on the stroke of lunch and then Paris nicked off Nic Maddinson and Jonathan Merlo after the break. Mitchell Perry‘s excellent innings as nightwatchman ended on 74 as Victoria lost their last four wickets for 16 runs in the last 20 balls of the innings to hand WA an 80-run first-innings lead and a chance to bat Victoria out of the game.
The one solace for Victoria was that there were still seven sessions left in the game to force a result. Scott Boland took two valuable wickets in the last session, while Matthew Short picked up Shaun Marsh for the second time in the match, as WA could only push the lead to 171 with seven wickets in hand with two days to play. Sam Whiteman stood firm at the close on 45 not out.

Victoria only have themselves to blame for not taking the bonus point lead. The team with the most bonus points accrued across the first 100 overs of the first batting innings of both teams will win the Shield in the event of a drawn final. Points are awarded for both batting and bowling, with 0.01 points given for every run scored beyond 200 in the first 100 overs and 0.1 points given for every wicket taken in the same period.

Starting the day at 3 for 147 after 58 overs, Handscomb and Perry had batted through the first 27 overs of the third morning without trouble, compiling a 91-run unbroken stand. But they only scored 27 runs in the last 10 overs before the second new ball. After 85 overs, with one over before lunch, Victoria were 3 for 233 needing to score just 45 runs more off 15 overs without loss to claim the bonus point lead. The only risk was that every lost wicket added 10 runs to the total required to surpass WA.

Handscomb, who had looked untroubled, played a rare false stroke, driving at a half-volley that was there to hit. Some late shape and a short stride forward saw him nick it to the keeper on the stroke of lunch.

Maddinson came out with clear intent after the break smacking five boundaries in 11 balls to ease any tension in the Victoria rooms. But like Handscomb, he was caught on the crease to a very full ball from Paris and drove down the wrong line to nick it to first slip.

That left nightwatchman Perry, who had reached his maiden first-class half-century but had slowed his scoring on 57 from 127 balls, and Merlo, in his fifth Shield match, to try and score 36 runs off 54 balls without loss.

But the pair faced 23 consecutive dot balls against Paris and Matthew Kelly who both locked in a disciplined line and length. Merlo struck two boundaries off Paris to get the equation back to 28 off 30.

Kelly delivered another maiden to Perry, who had faced 24 balls without scoring since the end of the 88th over. As well as Perry had played having been sent in to protect Maddinson the night before, his inability to score at the critical moment proved very costly.

WA nearly brought themselves undone having removed some slips briefly to set up further reinforcement in the ring. Perry nicked Kelly waist-high through a vacant first slip for four to leave Victoria needing 20 off 12. There was no mistake next over with Paris delivering a beauty from around the wicket to Merlo. He was drawn to play on the angle as it just straightened a touch to catch the outside edge.

It left Victoria needing 30 off 11 and they fell 18 runs short, with WA claiming 1.67 bonus points to Victoria’s 1.44. Victoria’s tail fell away. Sam Harper was trapped plumb in front shuffling across to a yorker-length delivery from Lance Morris. Perry progressed nicely to 74 having looked like an assured top-order player thanks to a series of superb cut shots, some sound drives and a solid forward defence. But the express pace of Morris and a cleverly placed leg slip brought about his demise as he leg-glanced straight to Paris.

Offspinner Corey Rocchiccioli picked up the last two as Will Sutherland and Jon Holland holed out trying to add quick runs with Victoria bowled out right on tea.

Boland set about keeping Victoria in the game with the ball, bagging first-innings centurion Cameron Bancroft with the third ball of WA’s second innings. Bancroft poked at a good length ball wide of off stump without the sharp footwork of the first innings to be caught behind for 0. Boland, Perry and Sutherland caused WA’s top order no end of problems as the ball seamed and bounced consistently with scoring becoming more and more difficult as the afternoon wore on.

Handscomb pulled a rabbit out of a hat after drinks bringing Short on to Marsh after the part-time offspinner had claimed the veteran in the first innings. Short made it two in two as Marsh meekly nicked a tossed up offbreak to slip first ball after drinks. Hilton Cartwright was tied down scoring just 12 off 50 balls before Boland found his outside edge with another superb delivery that angled in and nipped away to catch the edge.

Whiteman was solid throughout taking his opportunities when they were presented while defending and leaving superbly. He guided WA to stumps alongside 17-year-old Teague Wyllie.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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