NSW paceman Josh Hazlewood has recorded a career-best six-wicket haul to help his side to a 313-run lead over Western Australia at stumps on day three of the Sheffield Shield final in Canberra.
WA’s first-innings 180 was a dire 267 runs behind NSW’s 447 but, as the Blues only require a draw to win the Sheffield Shield, they opted against enforcing the follow-on.
The Blues’ second innings started shakily, however, with openers Ryan Carters and Nic Maddinson both out for ducks before skipper Steve Smith (21 not out) and Ben Rohrer (24 not out) steadied the ship to reach stumps at 2-46.
From this position, it would require nothing short of a miracle to stop the Blues holding up the Shield for the first time since 2008.
WA batsman Mitchell Marsh was the stand out for his side on Sunday, left stranded on 92 not out in front of 2427 spectators on a flat Manuka Oval deck.
He received good support from his older brother and recently dropped Test batsman Shaun Marsh until NSW all-rounder Moises Henriques (1-36) backed up his stellar century by breaking the stubborn 98-run partnership.
Following their disastrous day two, WA battled through the first two sessions on Sunday by scraping together 119 runs for the loss of just two wickets.
But things unravelled for the Warriors once again in the final session, losing their last four wickets for just 46 runs.
Hazlewood took two of those last four scalps, removing WA keeper Sam Whiteman caught behind by Peter Neville – who took five catches – before making inroads on the tail with Ashton Agar dismissed in similar fashion.
Trent Copeland bowled No.11 batsman Michael Hogan for a duck to prevent Marsh from reaching just his second first-class century.
WA started their innings in the worst possible fashion late on Saturday, losing two wickets in the first two balls courtesy of an on-song Hazlewood (6-50).
NSW’s dominant position was set up by a classy knock from Test squad all-rounder Henriques, who recorded just his third first-class century with a patient 140 runs off 316 balls.