The wicket of incumbent Australian Test opener Marcus Harris late on day one of the JLT Sheffield Shield Final has kept the NSW Blues on an even keel with Victoria at Junction Oval, Melbourne.
Harris made 141 from 229 balls and was pivotal to the Victorian total of 6/266 on Thursday. In-form fast bowler Sean Abbott (2-77) claimed the vital scalp of the opening batsman, caught at first slip, by seamer Trent Copeland.
Earlier, Victorian captain Travis Dean won the toss and elected to bat first. The two unbeaten batsmen at stumps for Victoria are fast bowlers Chris Tremain (13 not out) and James Pattinson (11 not out).
The rules for the Shield Final have changed for this season with bonus points awarded within the first 100 overs of the first innings.
Victoria so far lead the match on that measure by 0.06 of a bonus point.
Abbott and Copeland (2-61) were the multiple wicket takers on day one. Fast bowler Harry Conway (1-50), and the medium pace of Moises Henriques (1-22), also picked up one wicket each.
It was the third century for Harris in a Shield Final, third of the season and his 11th in First Class cricket. The left-hander remains at the top of the run-scorers list for the competition this season.
He has scored 1,165 runs at the excellent average of 72.81 including his highest First Class score of 250 not out made against the Blues at the MCG in late October.
It was a sedate start by the hosts in the first session. Victoria was 1/87 at lunch with Dean the only wicket to fall. Conway removed the opener for 23 from 72 balls.
The Blues claimed three wickets in the second session, including two to Copeland, within six overs.
He claimed emerging 21-year-old batsman Will Pucovski (17) and wicketkeeper-batsman Seb Gotch (2).
Allrounder Jack Edwards, 18, completed a smart catch, moving from third slip in front of second, to dismiss Gotch.
Veteran Cameron White (7) was the next to depart and Victoria had lost 3/21 with the score on 124.
The wicket of White brought Matt Short (34) to the crease. He added 80 for the fifth wicket in partnership with Harris.
As Harris and Short were building their partnership, Blues captain Peter Nevill sensed he needed to breakthrough.
Henriques was introduced into the attack, and in his third over, drew an inside edge from Short that was brilliantly caught by Nevill.
The Blues skipper moved sharply to his left to snare the catch. Harris was the next wicket to fall, and final for the day, with the score on 251.