Tasmania have edged a see-sawing second day of the JLT Sheffield Shield Final as Matthew Wade approached a sparkling century to lead a resilient batting effort at Allan Border Field.
After a sodden outfield saw the first day of the decider abandoned without a ball bowled, the Tigers skipped along to 6-360 at stumps on Saturday.
Four Tigers batsmen reached half-centuries but it was Wade who played the grittiest hand, reaching 92 by the close of play to put the visitors well in the hunt for a rare win as the lower-ranked side in the competition’s showpiece game.
Queensland, needing only a draw to bring the Shield plaque back to Brisbane for the first time since 2012, toiled valiantly with speedster Brendan Doggett the most successful bowler with 3-83 off his 24 overs.
While Doggett was the sharpest and the most threatening of the Bulls quicks, the right-armer will be rueing a hot chance he put down off Wade on 33.
Swing bowler Michael Neser, seeking to become just the second player to win a Big Bash and Sheffield Shield title in the same season, finished with 1-75 and pulled off a crucial direct-hit run-out of Tigers skipper George Bailey.
Standing by the same set of stumps that were rattled in his downfall hours earlier, Bailey called correctly at the toss and elected to bat first this morning on a dry surface already sporting a few budding cracks, as Jordan Silk (76) dominated the first session.
In a far cry from his dour 358-ball century in Tasmania's last Shield final triumph five years ago, Silk was comparatively belligerent as he raced to his half-century off 76 deliveries after losing opener Alex Doolan (two) and first drop Beau Webster (10), both to catches behind the wicket.
Silk scored 63 of the Tigers' first 88 runs, as speedster Brendan Doggett targeted him with a series of short balls after he nearly ducked into a rapid early bumper.
The 25-year-old hit back by taking 12 off one Doggett over including a couple of swivelling pull strokes.
The right-hander was fortunate to survive a close lbw shout off Jack Wildermuth shortly after bringing up his fifty while Webster had earlier nearly burnt him on a quick single, the only hiccups in a classy knock from the Penrith-born batsman once touted as a future Test opener.
But the Bulls came out snarling after lunch as Doggett's short-ball tactics paid off to leave the Tigers teetering four down with 150 yet to be reached.
The brisk right-armer captured the prized scalp of Silk when Luke Feldman completed a superb catch running around from fine leg, before Jake Doran feathered a pull shot behind to fall for a sketchy 34.
Both Wade and Bailey have played in multiple Shield final triumphs and the wise heads showed their nerve in combining for an 80-run stand.
Had Doggett held onto a reasonably straightforward chance off a cutting Wade at backward point shortly after Tasmania had passed 200, the Bulls might have fancied their chances of running through the visitors before the requisite 105 overs were bowled today.
Instead, the experienced duo were able to temper watchfulness while continuing to push the game forward as required by the visiting side in these encounters.
Bailey notched a special milestone upon reaching his 50th first-class fifty, yet just as the pair had wrestled the momentum back their side's way, the veteran ran himself out as Neser slipped around from mid-wicket and hit the stumps at the bowler's end.
The third umpire was called for but Bailey was hardly in shot, as the small but parochial home crowd erupted.
Simon Milenko (50) opened his shoulders for one of the strokes of the season as he pasted a tiring Feldman for a spectacular cover-driven six, throwing caution to the wind in an exhilarating knock.
Again the Bulls found a way through just as Tasmania had sniffed the ascendancy. Shortly after Milenko brought up a near run-a-ball half-century, the ex-Queenslander was smartly caught on the square-leg boundary by Swepson.
Wade, with help from No.8 Tom Rogers (unbeaten on 28), was defiant as he closes in on a third Shield century since losing his spot in the Test side at the beginning of this summer.
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