Katich fights off rampant Bushrangers
Victoria 1 for 19 trail New South Wales 9 for 253 dec (Katich 141, Nannes 4-49, Denton 4-54) by 234 runs
Simon Katich's third century of the season was not pretty but it did rescue New South Wales from annihilation as only three of his team-mates registered any score against Victoria. Gerard Denton and Dirk Nannes rattled the Blues with four wickets each and after Katich departed late in the day for 141 the visitors declared at 9 for 253.
Victoria faced 7.1 overs and Nick Jewell survived on 2 but Rob Quiney edged Doug Bollinger behind for 8 as the Bushrangers went to stumps at 1 for 19. New South Wales had made an even shakier start - they fell to 2 for 1 after Brad Hodge sent them in and five Blues made ducks around Katich's defiant innings.
Katich rated the effort as his best of the summer, which was quite a statement considering he has now posted half-centuries or hundreds from all six of his Pura Cup innings, with scores of 50, 306, 117, 63 not out, 51 and 141. Not surprisingly he is the competition's leading run scorer with 728 at 145.60 and he won the personal battle with Denton, the Pura Cup's top wicket-taker, who collected 4 for 54.
It was hard to believe Katich was the same man who a month ago made 184 in a session against Queensland. He came to the crease with his side in trouble and played accordingly, guarding his wicket jealously but also finding the boundary 17 times.
Katich's best shots were anonymous drives and cuts that did not thrill the spectators but did please the New South Wales dressing room. He occasionally attacked Bryce McGain, using his feet to negate the legspin and lofted a couple of boundaries over mid on. The work was all left to Katich though - Brad Haddin and Greg Mail each contributed 43 and Beau Casson chipped in with a late 18, but nobody else made a run.
Nannes claimed 4 for 49 and he rattled out three wickets with the second new ball including Katich, who was caught at first slip by Andrew McDonald after the chance bobbed out of the hands of David Hussey at second slip. Matthew Nicholson and Stuart Clark were no match for Nannes' inswing, both bowled for 0 just before the declaration.
He had also made use of the first new ball when Phillip Hughes, who was celebrating his 19th birthday, fended to gully for 0 in the second over. Peter Forrest followed for a duck the next over when he edged behind off Denton, who was later on a hat-trick after trapping Mail and Dominic Thornely (0) both lbw.
Mail was a late replacement for Ed Cowan, who sustained an ankle injury. The day might have taken a different path had Denton also missed with his ankle problem - he was in serious doubt before the match - but he overcame the niggle and now has 27 wickets at 15.29 this season.
Brydon Coverdale is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo