A defining afternoon session has an outright win within reach for the Western Warriors, with the side’s bowlers forcing a Tasmania Tigers collapse on the penultimate day of the Sheffield Shield clash at the WACA Ground.
The task will not be an easy one for WA, after being set 256 for victory and losing opener Cameron Bancroft (10) and nightwatchman Michael Beer (four), both LBW to Andrew Fekete before stumps to be 2-27.
Marcus North, 12, and Marcus Harris, one, will resume tomorrow.
The tally is far from an easy chase, but the Warriors should take confidence from their successful hunt of 357 for the win against the same opponent in last year’s Shield season at the WACA Ground.
Tasmania had proven stubborn all day and, on top of a timid run-rate, it took an hour and 10min after lunch for the first wicket to fall, with Marcus North’s off-breaks making much-needed in-roads to the Tigers’ order that resulted in a collapse from 2-200 to all out for 286 by the visitors.
Opener Ed Cowan had his eye well in and had made a patient 59 off 178 balls – a frustrating rate alongside George Bailey’s similar tally – when a bowling change to North had the batsman miscue a cut and edge to backwards point.
It was a breakthrough that was as important as the follow-up that needed to happen and, three balls later, that came, too, with Bailey dismissed for 83 with an edge off Mitch Marsh through to wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman.
The result was two wickets in four balls; a stark contrast to the no wickets from the 286 balls, with just 122 runs, that preceded it in the day.
The lack of wickets to that point was pushing WA to breaking point, given the Warriors had entered Day 3 in control with the Tigers 2-78, before those fortunes swung dramatically under the weight of the two entrenched, resuming batsmen.
National Twenty20 captain Bailey showed poise in a patient switch to red ball cricket that he lacked in the first innings, when he was dismissed for nine.
His dismissal after Cowan’s was crucial and proved a turning point, because 14 balls later, Marsh got his second wicket, with Tim Paine edging through to Whiteman for just four to have Tasmania 5-204.
Another four overs later and another batsman gone, as Ryan Duffield chimed in to dismiss the big-hitting Ben Dunk caught behind for nine.
The dismissal brought the troublesome first-innings pairing of Luke Butterworth and Ben Hilfenhaus back together and duo again provided some resistance to go into the tea break at 6-218.
The 19-run partnership came unstuck six overs after play resumed when Duffield snared his second, with Butterworth slashing a drive outside off stump and sending a thick edge to North at gully.
The last of the tail was felled with a double-wicket over from Marsh in the 95th, as Hilfenhaus departed for 29 and Whiteman made his seventh catch for the match to rid Sam Rainbird for 32 to complete Tasmania’s dramatic fall from 2-200 to all out in 86 runs.
It had the hosts set 256 for outright victory with 19 overs to play in the day and the openers, North and Bancroft, appeared steady until Fekete claimed his first in the 15th, trapping the latter batsman.
Beer entered the game in an almost identical situation to the first innings – coming in at three and needing to survive about half an hour to see out the day – but was unable to manage the task for a second time, falling as another LBW victim to Fekete.
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