Alex Doolan’s brilliant century was enough to see Tasmania survive a batting collapse and prevail in a Sheffield Shield thriller against NSW at Blacktown on Saturday.
The defending Shield champions were cruising at 2-261 chasing 295 for victory, before Doolan’s dismissal sparked a stunning capitulation where Tasmania lost 6-23.
However, a brave six down the ground off Nathan Lyon from Clive Rose, playing just his second first-class game, helped the Tigers get within four of the win, before the 24-year-old tail-ender finished the job with another slog down the ground in the 97th over off Steve O’Keefe.
Rose’s 13 not out was crucial in the two-wicket win after big-hitter Luke Butterworth was controversially stumped off Lyon to leave Tasmania eight down with 11 runs still needed.
But Doolan was the difference with 132 from 194 balls, a clear man-of-the-match after also posting a half century in the first innings.
The Tigers resumed at 1-18 on day four with stoic opener Ed Cowan already back in the shed, and the Blues appeared to have the visitors on toast.
Despite spinners Lyon (3-88) and O’Keefe (3-53) rallying late, it was a disappointing performance from a NSW side trying to turn around their fortunes this season and bring home a title.
The Blues were powerless to stop Doolan once he got on a roll, as he shared in consecutive 100-run stands with Ben Dunk (67) and Jonathan Wells (57).
Unfortunately for NSW captain Michael Clarke, the flow of wickets came a little too late.
In Melbourne, Cameron White upstaged Test aspirant Fawad Ahmed with a fine spell of leg-spin bowling as Victoria fell just short of a win over Western Australia at the MCG.
Former Test batsman Marcus North defied the Bushrangers with a gutsy and classy seven-hour unbeaten 118 as WA finished the game 8-244, still 136 runs behind, to hold on for a draw.
Ahmed, who took 6-68 in the first innings, would have been looking for another haul on the last day to strengthen his chances of an Ashes Test debut.
But he went wicketless and didn’t look dangerous.
In contrast, fellow leggie White, in superb form with the bat, bowled beautifully to claim four scalps in the last session to give Victoria a sniff of victory.
Shaun Marsh, who needed a big score to push his Ashes claims, made just four before becoming one of White’s victims.
And Queensland leg-spinner Cameron Boyce’s personal best seven-wicket haul against South Australia couldn’t prevent a draw in the Shield match in Adelaide.
Boyce took 7-68, his best first-class figures, as the Redbacks stumbled to 9-194 in their second innings on the final day.
SA held a 116-run lead over Queensland, who banked innings points and batted just once in the Glenelg Oval game.
Boyce sparked faint hopes of a Queensland victory after the tea break.
The 24-year-old claimed the initial six wickets to fall, and Nathan Hauritz added another couple, as SA lost 8-61 in a stunning slide.
But time was always against an outright result, given the Bulls’ first innings ended some 75 minutes before lunch on Saturday.
Queensland’s push to win was also hampered by an ill Ryan Harris, with the Test paceman unable to bowl on Saturday.
Harris fielded at first slip for the duration of SA’s second innings, the sixth Queenslander to be hampered by a stomach illness during the game.