Blues face tough chase to claim title
Tasmania 340 and 6 for 203 (Di Venuto 64, Bailey 50, Nicholson 3-52) lead New South Wales 230 (Jaques 82, Lambert 61, Butterworth 4-33) by 313 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Matthew Nicholson bowled New South Wales back into contention but Michael Di Venuto and George Bailey ensured the Blues will have to chase well over 300 to take the Pura Cup title. Tasmania inched to 6 for 203 at the close of a low-scoring day with Luke Butterworth on 22 and Sean Clingeleffer on 8.
The Blues trailed by 313 but would be satisfied with their fightback, having conceded a first-innings lead of 110 in the morning session. Tight bowling from Dominic Thornely and Nathan Hauritz - who each went for less than two an over - limited the home side's progress but Di Venuto and Bailey eked out half-centuries.
Nicholson claimed 3 for 52 to put Tasmania on the back foot and when Bailey was lbw to a Grant Lambert inswinger for 50 they looked shaky. Clingeleffer and Butterworth - the first-innings hero with 66 - survived Stuart MacGill's late efforts and with Damien Wright, who also starred on day one, still to come the lead could yet balloon.
Di Venuto was the most attacking of Tasmania's watchful line-up, racing to his fifty from 51 balls and lifting Nicholson over square leg for two sixes. He was tied down after lunch, however, in a session that yielded only 51 runs, and was run out for 64 from 107 deliveries.
Nicholson extracted good swing and having removed Tim Paine and Michael Dighton early, returned to end Dan Marsh's scratchy innings when he clipped a ball to midwicket. Travis Birt uncharacteristically crawled to 28 before he drove a return catch to MacGill.
On a pitch starting to offer assistance to the bowlers, the Blues will need a better batting effort than in their first attempt, having added only 23 to their overnight total. Lambert (61) made his fourth half-century of the season but Butterworth ended his resistance and finished with 4 for 33.
Bailey said Tasmania took confidence from the fact the pitch was wearing, with some variable bounce. "The way we bowled in the first innings is the blueprint," he said. "It is starting to keep a little low and if you bowl pretty straight I think it's going to be hard to score on, so I think we're in the box seat."
Nicholson believed the Blues had the batting depth to win but they needed to finish Tasmania off quickly. "Victoria's shown in the last couple of years you can chase pretty much anything if you bat well," he said. "This wicket's a good wicket [but] we'll have to contend probably with a bit of reverse swing."