Sheffield Shield 2021-22 – Peter Handscomb and Matthew Short dominate as Victoria take a stranglehold of NSW

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Pair make 90 each to set up a declaration with NSW slumping to 3 for 61 at stumps, chasing 422 to win

New South Wales 140 & 3 for 61 (Patterson 24) trail Victoria 9 for 313 dec and 5 for 248 dec (Handscomb 90, Short 90) by 361 runs

Peter Handscomb and Matthew Short both made 90 to put Victoria on the brink of a second successive victory over New South Wales as the visitors battled to 3 for 61 chasing 422 to win, at stumps on day three at the MCG.

Handscomb continued his excellent start to the season, backing up his century at Drummoyne Oval with a classy 90 in challenging conditions at the MCG. Short cashed in on a weary Blues bowling attack, still missing Trent Copeland, who attempted to bowl in the nets on the morning of day three but wasn’t fit enough to take the field due to the lower leg injury he sustained early on day one.

Victoria started the day with a first-innings lead of 173 after bowling the Blues out for 140. Having begun the day at 9 for 139, Blues wicketkeeper Peter Nevill was the last to fall in their first innings, holing out at deep long-on off the second ball of the morning.

Victoria’s second innings started poorly with Marcus Harris falling for a duck, although he may have been unfortunate to be adjudged lbw to Sean Abbott, with major question marks over whether it pitched in line with leg stump and whether it would have clipped the bails given the pronounced bounce of this MCG pitch. Harris will head to Queensland to quarantine with the Australia squad ahead of the Ashes. He is coming off scores of 1 and 0, however, he did not do much wrong in either innings.

James Seymour also fell cheaply, but Handscomb played with great control as the ball nipped around consistently in overcast conditions. He struck nine boundaries in his 90 from 177 deliveries. Handscomb looked assured in defence and drove and pulled with control. He also played Nathan Lyon with ease, showing some of the class that earned him two Test centuries in 2016-17.

Nic Maddinson played nicely again, following on from his first innings century, although he did have a huge slice of luck gloving a pull shot to Nevill off a no-ball from Abbott. However, he didn’t make NSW pay as he was clean bowled for 33 while attempting a booming drive on the up. Handscomb was unfortunate to miss out on a century with Jack Edwards producing a sharp off-cutter to see him caught behind off the inside edge.

Short then teed off, clubbing eight fours and two huge sixes down the ground as Victoria pursued a declaration. He fell unselfishly for 90 from 122 balls trying to launch Edwards again, with the allrounder claiming his career-best Sheffield Shield figures of 3 for 47.

Set 422 to win with just under four sessions remaining, the Blues’ chase got off to a disastrous start with Matt Gilkes caught and bowled for a duck off a leading edge while trying to turn Scott Boland into the leg side. They slumped to 2 for 15 when James Pattinson had Jason Sangha caught behind with a ball that leapt from a length.

The experience of Daniel Hughes and Kurtis Patterson steadied the ship under intense pressure and in fading light, although Hughes nearly ran himself out for the second time in the match. The pair survived some outstanding fast bowling but needed some luck with several plays and misses and some inside edges running safely to fine leg.

But right on stumps, Patterson got himself in a tangle missing a full straight ball from Will Sutherland to be plumb lbw. Jack Edwards survived the last three balls of the day, leaving Victoria needing just seven wickets for victory on the final day.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo