Tasmania chases an outright win

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Ricky Ponting is congratulated by bowler Xavier Doherty after taking a catch to dismiss Victoria’s Andrew McDonald during day three of the Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Tasmania. Photo: Getty Images

THE renowned captaincy of Tasmania’s George Bailey will be tested today when his team’s Sheffield Shield match against Victoria concludes at the MCG.

The Tigers will start the final day 125 runs in front of the Bushrangers with all 10 wickets intact. The possibility of having more than a day to bowl Victoria out for a second time disappeared when rain washed out all but three overs of the last session on day three.

Bailey’s team comfortably earned first-innings points after dismissing the Bushrangers for 320. A likely issue for final-day strategies is that Tasmania needs full points more than Victoria does, as the Tigers earned six points from their first two matches while their current opponent snared 12.

Lanky seamer Jackson Bird, whose four-wicket haul extended his great MCG form of last season, said the Tigers still aimed to secure an outright win. To do so, however, they will need to balance the desire to set an insurmountable target to wanting their bowlers to have as much time as possible to claim another 10 wickets.

Victoria resumed day three at 4-132. Its lack of partnership on day two was remedied slightly as three half-century stands were produced. Coach Greg Shipperd was frustrated that six players scored between 25 and 65 without any going on to produce a big score like Ricky Ponting had done a day earlier. Even more significantly, he was seething that many of the team’s dismissals were self-inflicted.

”[With] 320 on the board, normally we’ve hit our targets and are pretty satisfied that we’re in the game, but when you consider Tasmania was 5-530, the wicket was good and getting better. For someone not to get out there and really dominate was an opportunity lost. Too many 30s, 40s, 50 – and most of the time we handed our wicket over to the opposition,” he said.

David Hussey and Chris Rogers fell to rash shots on day two. And on day three, Andrew McDonald (64) and Glenn Maxwell (51) were two batsmen in particular whose dismissals curtailed what were very promising innings.

However, the Bushrangers would have been heartened by the performance of John Hastings. The bowling all-rounder showed significant restraint initially – he scored three from his first 48 deliveries – and then took on more responsibility with the tail to shepherd his team past the follow-on mark.

Hastings fell four runs short of his half-century after intelligent bowling from left-armer James Faulkner, who produced the most impressive bowling performance of the match.

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