Blues and Bushrangers draw in rainy Melbourne
Victoria 8 for 256 dec and 2 for 117 (Quiney 52*) drew with New South Wales 9 for 253 dec and 7 for 323 dec (Mail 125, Thornely 76*, McGain 5-112)
Rain ruined the final day of a closely-fought top-of-the-table contest at the MCG where Victoria and New South Wales played out a tame draw. The Blues declared early, setting Victoria a tough chase of 321 from 90 overs but rain arrived before the Bushrangers could begin and another interruption later meant a draw was almost inevitable.
Victoria were 0 for 28 from ten overs when their progress was halted by the second delay, which lasted nearly two hours. In the end the skies cleared and Nick Jewell (49) and Rob Quiney enjoyed some batting practice, guiding the Bushrangers to 2 for 117 from their 42 overs.
Quiney finished unbeaten on 52 and Brad Hodge was lbw to Matthew Nicholson from the final ball for 4. Beau Casson collected his first wicket for the game when Jewell tried to force his half-century and lobbed a catch to Greg Mail at mid on.
New South Wales began the day with a lead of 278 and batted for 20 minutes, adding 42 to their total and giving Bryce McGain his third first-class five-wicket haul. McGain ended up with 5 for 112 after Stuart Clark advanced and ambitiously aimed to send McGain over long on but misread the legspin and was bowled.
Dominic Thornely added a quick 28 to his overnight score and was 76 not out when the declaration came at 7 for 323. But the first rain appeared just when Victoria's batsmen were getting into position to begin their chase and the innings did not start for another two hours.
The draw was a disappointing finish to a match that, while low-scoring, had provided some interesting battles and excellent individual performances. Simon Katich's opening-day 141 from a total of 253 was the standout, although other highlights included David Hussey's 95 to get Victoria first-innings points and Nathan Bracken's tight and testing bowling effort when he collected 4 for 40 on the second day.
New South Wales and Victoria remain in the top two spots on the Pura Cup table, a game clear of the resurgent South Australia. Western Australia can jump into third if they win their match against Tasmania, which is under way in Hobart.
Brydon Coverdale is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo