Victoria v Queensland, Pura Cup, Melbourne, 3rd day November 26, 2006

Bushrangers chase 313 for victory

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

Victoria 253 and 0 for 6 trail Queensland 272 and 9 for 293 dec (Love 63, Stevens 61, Moss 3-52) by 306 runs

Victoria face an uphill battle to avoid defeat after their injury-depleted attack struggled to capitalise on a deteriorating MCG pitch against Queensland. Without their strike bowler Gerard Denton, who left the field with a leg injury, the Bushrangers were unable to provoke one of the major batting collapses that have dominated the game as the Bulls worked their way to 9 for 293 declared and a lead of 312. Victoria are 0 for 6 at stumps and will need to score the highest innings total of the game on the final day to secure their second Pura Cup win of the season.

The Bushrangers had the sniff of an easier run-chase when Queensland were 8 for 230 but once again they failed to skittle the tail. Chris Hartley batted for 144 minutes for 29 not out and put on a valuable unbeaten 38 for the last wicket with Daniel Doran, the No.11. Doran (24 not out) rubbed salt into Victoria's wounds, smashing Cameron White for two sixes in the last over before Queensland declared.

Lachlan Stevens and Martin Love defied the bowler-friendly trend of the match, adding 82 to Queensland's overnight total of 1 for 51 before Jon Moss exploited the pitch's variable bounce and trapped Stevens lbw for 61 to a ball that kept low. Two overs later Adam Crosthwaite took a sharp chance standing up to the stumps from Moss's bowling to dismiss Love for 63.

When Andrew Symonds had a brain-fade in the next over and was bowled for 8 attempting to slog White over midwicket, leaving Clinton Perren and James Hopes both yet to score at lunch, another middle-order collapse was on the cards. But without Denton to negotiate, the pair steadied the Bulls with a 52-run partnership until Perren (22), the man whose direct hit from third-man on Saturday ran out Clinton McKay, became the victim of a run-out.

On a day when a little-known substitute fielder caught Andrew Strauss in the Test match at the Gabba, another ring-in ended Perren's innings. Tom Stray, a former member of Australia's Under-19s team, was fielding instead of the 12th man Robert Quiney who was playing club cricket, when he ran Perren out from point. Hopes was bowled by a Shane Harwood skidder in the first over after tea for 46 and when Andy Bichel (4) and Ashley Noffke (0) fell the Bushrangers had hopes of wrapping up the tail cheaply.

Victoria's fast-bowling situation went from bad to worse when Denton hurt his leg in the morning session. Denton, whose 6 for 62 in the first innings was his second six-wicket haul in the Pura Cup this season, could miss two to three weeks depending on the result of scans on Monday. Victoria are already without Mick Lewis, Allan Wise, Dirk Nannes, Rob Cassell and Peter Siddle through injuries and have only just regained Harwood from a side strain.