Victoria 182 for 8 (Handscomb 43, Dwarshuis 3-43) vs New South Wales
New South Wales quick Ben Dwarshuis claimed three wickets as Victoria’s disastrous start to the Sheffield Shield season continued after suffering another collapse on a truncated opening day at the MCG.
Play did not begin until 1pm with the opening session lost due to a wet outfield after overnight rain. Victoria lost 5 for 46 in the final session with the recalled Dwarshuis claiming three wickets including the key scalp of Peter Handscomb to a poorly executed pull shot, while the in-form Matt Short was brilliantly run out by substitute Chris Green following a terrible yes-no call from Sam Harper.
Nathan Lyon went wicketless but bowled tightly through 16 overs on his return to first-class cricket as he continues his comeback from the Ashes-ending calf injury.
Victoria’s top-order made plenty of starts with Handscomb, Travis Dean, Will Pucovski and Short all passing 25 but none reached 50 as they handed NSW the ascendency having been sent into bat.
Test hopeful Marcus Harris’ start to the season has mirrored that of his team’s. He fell for a first-ball duck to add to his scores of 0 and 10 in his only other Shield appearance so far this year after missing Victoria’s opening match of the season.
This time he fell caught at short leg, prodding forward to a delivery from Chris Tremain that jagged off the seam. He got an inside edge onto pad and it ballooned to Ryan Hackney at short leg.
Pucovski, batting at No. 3 on return after being rested from the loss to Queensland, was nearly out in identical fashion but Hackney was unable to get his hand under the ball as he dived forward onto the pitch. Pucovski should have also been out on 10 when he edged Dwarshuis behind but wicketkeeper Matthew Gilkes was wrong-footed and he grassed the relatively straight-forward chance diving to his right.
Pucovski and Dean ground out a 68-run stand in nearly 35 overs on a tricky surface that had plenty of live green grass. Both men faced more than a hundred balls and managed just two boundaries apiece on the soft, slow outfield. Pucovski finally fell to Jackson Bird, edging behind trying to defend from the crease.
Dean continued to grind alongside Handscomb who was far more fluent. But Dean fell to an innocuous Moises Henriques delivery, guiding it to slip with anchored feet after facing 154 deliveries for his 39.
Handscomb played nicely for his 43 but his dismissal sparked a disastrous collapse. He played an uncharacteristic pull shot while setting up square on to Dwarshuis from around the wicket. The short ball was wide of off stump and he top-edged it to square leg trying to drag it over midwicket.
Captain Will Sutherland also fell to a short ball trap from Dwarshuis, spooning a catch to deep backward square with two men placed for the exact shot.
Things went from bad to worse when Short was run out having looked in good touch. Harper pulled a ball into the short leg fielder and it ricocheted towards midwicket, Harper called ‘yes’ and then ‘no’ as he realised Green was swooping. Short took off to the initial call and was forced to scramble back but Green’s brilliant direct hit beat his desperate dive.
Dwarshuis had Mitch Perry caught behind shortly after before Fergus O’Neill was trapped plumb infront by Tremain in the final over of the day with the lights in full effect.