South Australia v Tasmania, Pura Cup, Adelaide, 2nd day March 2, 2007

Birt's 102 keeps heat on struggling Redbacks

Cricinfo staff

South Australia 139 and 2 for 53 trail Tasmania 337 (Birt 102, Di Venuto 78, Dighton 52) by 145 runs

Travis Birt broke his century drought at a crucial period © Getty Images

Travis Birt picked a timely day to produce his first Pura Cup century of the season and he lifted Tasmania to an enviable position at Adelaide Oval. South Australia, who were bowled out for 139 on Thursday, fought back with three wickets in the first session to have the Tigers at 5 for 216, but Birt was helped by Sean Clingeleffer to end the challenge.

Birt, an Australia A representative last winter, had struggled for sizeable scores during the summer and overcame his problems with a controlled 102 that kept Tasmania on track for a spot in the final. The Tigers grabbed the competition lead with their first-innings points and Birt strengthened the advantage during his 202-ball contribution that included nine fours.

His partnership with Clingeleffer, who picked up a useful 46, was essential in preventing South Australia from facing a small deficit. Birt fell to an edge off Paul Rofe, who had earlier picked up Michael Dighton for 52, and Dan Cullen added Clingeleffer to accept his second victim. Mark Cosgrove's occasional offerings concluded the innings at 337 and he returned a surprising 3 for 3 off nine overs.

South Australia's reply started badly when Jason Borgas was caught at point for 1 and Darren Lehmann departed on the final ball of the day when he was taken sweeping Xavier Doherty. The Redbacks were 2 for 53 and still 145 in arrears.