Bowlers have dominated the second day of the JLT Sheffield Shield Final between the NSW Blues and Victoria at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.
In all 15 wickets fell across three innings for 192 runs before bad light stopped play after tea, with veteran seamer Trent Copeland claiming 5/74, his third five-wicket haul of the season.
When play was called off with 14.1 overs remaining Victoria had reached 1-48 in its second innings, an overall lead of 216 runs under grey skies on a seamer-friendly wicket. Captain Travis Dean was unbeaten on 24 with Will Pucovski yet to face a ball.
Victoria started the day at 6-266 and was bowled out within the first 11 overs for 289. Copeland’s five wickets gave him 49 for the season, his best in nine years of first class cricket with the Blues.
Copeland’s fellow pacemen Sean Abbott (2/77) and Harry Conway (2/58) are also having their best seasons for the Blues, with Abbott now on 34 wickets after bowling Test opener and first innings century maker Marcus Harris (23) with a magnificent delivery in the Victorian second innings. Conway is on 20 wickets at an average of little more than 20 apiece.
Highlighting the unlikely scenario of a Junction Oval pitch favouring fast bowlers, Victoria’s Test quality opening attack of Peter Siddle (5-28) and James Pattinson (3-30) combined with former NSW fast bowler Chris Tremain (2-27) to dismiss the Blues for just 121 in 39 overs. Moises Henriques (35) top-scored while teenagers Jason Sangha (21) and Jack Edwards, who was last man out for 20, showed flashes of their talent.
Sangha and Henriques did their best to bring NSW back on track, combining for a solid 50 run partnership, before the Blues collapsed to lose 7-33 in the space of 12 overs.
Pattinson sparked the collapse when he trapped Sangha lbw then bowled skipper Peter Nevill (four) with a delivery that jagged back off the pitch.
Siddle then dismissed the Blues lower order. The 34-year-old took his 200th Shield wicket when he had Edwards caught behind hooking to end the innings.
With bonus points now being continued from the regular season into the Sheffield Shield final for the first time to make it more of a contest Victoria is well ahead, with the Blues needing to win the game to win the Shield.
A draw will be enough for Victoria to claim the Shield for a fourth time in five years.