Tasmania v Queensland, Pura Cup, Hobart, 3rd day January 23, 2004

Dighton and Watson give Tasmania the edge


Queensland 4 for 140 and 8 for 400 dec lead Tasmania 4 for 402 (Dighton 127*, Di Venuto 91, Marsh 80*) by 138 runs

Michael Dighton: hit a patient 127 not out
© Getty Images

A century from Michael Dighton, his first in the Pura Cup for two years, along with a triumphant return to bowling by Shane Watson, helped Tasmania take the upper hand against Queensland on the third day at Hobart.

Shattering the tedium of day two, Tasmania declared at 4 for 402 before tea to edge ahead of Queensland's first innings of 8 for 400 declared. A hard-hitting Dighton was an unbeaten 127, his first ton since February 2002, while Dan Marsh was 80 not out. Their stand of 171 runs off 216 balls guaranteed Tasmania two first-innings points after they started the day on a sluggish 3 for 170 off 71 overs.

Tasmania are second in the Pura Cup table with 20 points, with Queensland in third on 16.

Watson, after a year-long rest from bowling, today took the coveted scalps of Queensland's Martin Love and Stuart Law. Queensland were 4 for 140 in their second innings at stumps, leading Tasmania by 138 overall, with newcomer Craig Philipson unbeaten on 23 and James Hopes 30.

Watson snared Love, caught at first slip by Marsh for 11 in his second over, and later bowled Law for 45 in his fourth over. He finished the day with 2 for 23 off six overs. Watson had been limited to batting only after suffering back-related stress fractures, and was forced to withdraw from the 2003 World Cup squad because of the injury.

After the game, he admitted to being extremely nervous before sending down his first ball. "I am just glad the first ball came out on the wicket," he said. "After the first ball, it was really good, I was really confident with everything. Every time I bowl, it feels a lot more comfortable.

"Bagging a couple of wickets was a massive bonus. The plan was to try to bowl two five-over spells in one day, but because of the situation of the game I will probably bowl one more spell of five tomorrow" Watson added. "I was pretty happy with the pace that it came out today and hopefully I can keep progressing with that."

He was also confident Tasmania were up to the challenge of a run chase tomorrow. "I reckon, as we've shown before, we can chase at least 300 in a day," he said. "We are pretty confident, if we are set that we will be able to achieve it."

Watson, meanwhile, was more philosophical about his future in the international arena: "I am trying not to set too many goals, that will look after itself in the long run."