New South Wales Blues seamer Trent Copeland has claimed his second five-wicket haul of the JLT Sheffield Shield season on Monday with the Blues well placed at stumps on day three to chase down the 309 to win against Victoria at Junction Oval.
At the close of play, the Blues were 2/150. Opener Daniel Hughes (59 not out) made his fourth half-century of the season just before stumps and he is joined at the crease by left-hander Kurtis Patterson (34 not out).
Copeland claimed 5-59 from 24.1 overs was the main destroyer for NSW as it dismissed Victoria for 280 mid-way through the third day.
Australian left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe also claimed 2-75 in the second innings. It completed his fourth First Class haul of 10 wickets in a match after he wreaked havoc on the first day with 8-77.
Hughes said the game was still in the balance heading into day four.
“We fought really hard this morning to bowl them out for just over 300 (lead),” Hughes said.
“It’s a pretty nice wicket … if you can get in. The ball gets a little bit softer, then you can get a partnership going, it’s not too bad.”
“When you’re losing wickets, and guys have got to start on that wicket, it’s quite tough.”
Victorian batsman Travis Dean (106) earlier made his sixth First Class hundred and was by far the best performed batsman for the hosts.
The next best score for Victoria was Glenn Maxwell (33) as the Bushrangers struggled to develop a significant partnership with Dean.
Victoria resumed on the third morning at 5/156 with Dean 64 not out and the opener was the eighth wicket to fall. Sean Abbott (2-59) dismissed Dean in the 95th over courtesy of a Nick Larkin catch in the gully.
Copeland added to his overnight total of 4-26 when he collected the scalp of Chris Tremain (9).
He was at his typically accurate and miserly best conceding less than three runs per over throughout the Victorian second innings. It was the 15th five-wicket haul of his First Class career.
Some lower order resistance was provided by Peter Siddle (28) Seb Gotch (25) and Dan Christian (22) to get the hosts to 280, but none were able to go on and make a substantial score.
Victoria entered the NSW second innings with a lead of 308 runs and the Blues made a great start to the chase with Nick Larkin (45) and Hughes putting together 83 runs for the first wicket.
The promising knock for Larkin was cut short when he was dismissed by Fawad Ahmed (2-49) in the 22nd over.
Despite the lack of reverse swing, the Junction Oval pitch was providing some purchase for the spinners.
“It was spinning quite nicely, there’s a little bit of rough out there,” Hughes said.
The partnership between Hughes and Patterson is currently worth 61 runs since the pair came together at the fall of the Ed Cowan (6) wicket.
Hughes said the first hour would be crucial tomorrow morning and the Blues are expecting a slow hard slog.
“They’re going to be bowl at the stumps, try and get the ball reversing, set straight fields, and then the spinners will try and come into play, so we’ve got to really fight hard and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”