Eager to get stuck back into red ball cricket and in his first four-day match for the season, Tasmanian captain Matthew Wade was buoyed when he won the toss, choosing to bat at Melbourne’s CitiPower Centre.
Despite it being the Tigers’ penultimate game of the regular Marsh Sheffield Shield season, it’s never too late to blood new talent, with Ben Manenti becoming the fourth player to debut for Tasmania at a first-class level this season. However, with the Tigers batting first and the top to middle order batters doing more than their job on day one of play, we will have to wait until day two to see Manenti in action.
Openers Tim Ward and Caleb Jewell looked as comfortable as they could be on a pitch with a greenish tinge, and both got away well until Jewell came undone, stumped by Victorian ‘keeper Sam Harper for 27. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Ward followed two overs later for 29, leaving two relatively fresh batters at the crease heading into the first break of the day.
In good news for the visitors, those two batters were Wade and Ben McDermott, with the experienced pair quickly working on building a healthy partnership. They made it all the way through the middle session of the day without loss, only for Wade to become undone just as he was getting going again, departing for 61 off 129 deliveries.
After building a 129-run partnership with Wade, McDermott set about building another with incoming batter, Jordan Silk, who was also bringing up the runs quickly. The pair built their partnership to 59 runs before in the final half hour of play, Silk nicked one to Victorian captain Peter Handscomb at slip, and was sent packing for 31.
In further heartbreak for the Tigers, McDermott came oh-so-close to making his third first-class century, only to be dismissed in a very similar fashion to Silk in the final over of the day, departing for 94.
At stumps, the Tigers sit on 5-250, with Jake Doran (2*) and Tom Rogers (0*) at the crease.
As play got underway in overcast conditions at the CitiPower Centre, it was far from an ideal start for the Tasmanians, with it being just three balls into day two of play before the first wicket fell. Tom Rogers may have been heading back to the sheds for a seven-ball duck, and the Tigers may have lost their last three wickets for just five runs, but the remaining batters showed little concern.
Although on paper Jake Doran was the only specialist batter left with his wicket still in tact, the bowlers didn’t let that get to them, with Tom Andrews (39), Jackson Bird (26) and Ben Manenti (19*) all scoring at a strike rate of 85. The quickly piled on 105 runs in the first hour and half of play for the day, before finally being dismissed for 355.
The Victorian openers made it through to lunch unscathed, but just after the break Jackson Bird struck, dismissing opener James Seymour for 10. After looking threatening every over of the innings thus far, Peter Siddle then got in on the action, claiming the scalp of the fast-scoring Victorian captain, Peter Handscomb, for 22. When – just three overs later – Ben Manenti joined the party and taking his first first-class wicket in the process – Nic Maddinson caught-and-bowled for 1 – things were looking good for the Tigers.
Next Jake Fraser-McGurk joined remaining opener, Travis Dean, at the crease, the pair started to compile a nice 38-run partnership. However, once again the break – this time tea – proved to be bad luck for the home side, with Fraser-McGurk departing shortly after the resumption of play for 25.
‘Keeper Sam Harper was next to the crease, and this one was seemingly a partnership that would stick. As the Tasmanians began to tire in the field, Harper and Dean slowly chipped away at the deficit, for what turned out to be an even 100-run partnership come stumps. At the end of the day’s play, Harper was staring down his half century, finishing unbeaten on 42, whilst a daring edge through slips late saw Dean bring up his well-deserved – and unbeaten – century.
At stumps Victoria are on 4-210, trailing Tasmania by 145 runs with six wickets in hand.
Day three started much as day two finished, with Travis Dean and Sam Harper piling on the runs for the Vics. The breakthrough seemed as if it would never come, until Tom Andrews trapped Harper LBW, heart-breakingly short of a century on 93.
It took 63 over to get this initial breakthrough, and then just four overs later centurion, Travis Dean, was sent packing as well, heading back to the sheds after an impressive innings of 146. When a fiery spell from James Pattinson (21 off 22) also came to an end, Victorian captain, Peter Handscomb, made a sporting declaration, sending the Tigers back into bat with his side 21 runs behind their first innings total.
The Tigers second innings didn’t get off to the start they would’ve liked, with both openers falling for single figures. Once again it was the formidable combination of Matthew Wade and Ben McDermott that steadied the ship, but just after tea their 64-run partnership came to an end, when McDermott was dismissed for 21.
When Wade followed five overs later – just after making his half century – the Tigers were teetering at 4-90, but after the cheap dismissals of Jake Doran (2) and Tom Rogers (3) the situation was even more dyer as the Tigers slumped to 6-105.
Enter, Tom Andrews. After a stellar 39 in the first innings, Andrews added 40 off just 49 balls in the last session of the day, in a knock that included eight boundaries. It was only thanks to a freakish piece of fielding from Jake Fraser-McGurk that Andrews was run out six overs before the end of play.
At stumps, the Tigers sit on 7-170, with a 191-run lead over Victoria. Jordan Silk (22*) and Ben Manenti (9*) will be at the crease again tomorrow to start the final day of play.
Day four for the Tigers started with Silk (22*) and Manenti (9*) at the crease looking to steady the ship for TAS who needed to produce a defendable total. It was Silky who took the reins, surging towards a half century before he was unfortunate enough to be caught by Handscomb on a driving ball edged to first slip.
It began to crumble for the Tigers with Manenti dismissed in the next over with Pete Handscomb taking a very impressive record-breaking 9th catch for the match. TAS were all out in the 70th over with Bird bowled by Perry to end the innings.
Play was delayed during the innings break with Rain stopping the final innings from resuming. VIC came out firing with the new ball making 0-39 off the first four overs, a start the Tigers were not hoping for.
It wasn’t until the 13th over that Bird found the first wicket for the innings to prevent Travis Dean from reaching a half-century on 42 (46) and slowing the chase for the Victorians. Both Bird and Manenti worked off each other well to try and restrict the runs conceded against the Tigers.
It was Manenti who claimed the next wicket with an LBW of Seymour (25) leaving the Victorians 2-86 off 21 overs. VIC pushed forward to 124 runs before Siddle struck like lightning to dismiss a comfortable looking Handscomb on 33 runs.
A dropped catch from Bird in the 36th over Siddle’s bowling could’ve shifted the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. Thankfully in the next over Manenti found his second wicket to dismiss Fraser-McGurk on 9 runs, leaving VIC 4-134.
In a big shift Tom Andrews looked to change the game with the wicket of the dangerous Maddinson on 23 runs, giving the Tigers a fighting chance to stay in the game. But the magic wasn’t over with Andrews getting Harper with a catch from McDermott to change the game.
Manenti continued to assist the shift in the match with his third wicket for the day, leaving the Victorians scratching their heads on how they could turn it around as they sat 7-161. But it was none other than Peter Siddle who left the Tigers only needing two more wickets to close out the day, with VIC needing 41 runs to get the win.
The overs kept coming with many appeals from the Tigers, but they weren’t met with wickets as the positive intensity continued. By the end of the innings it wasn’t meant to be as Victoria fought back hard to get the final runs that they needed to claim victory.
FULL SCORECARD: cricket.com.au