Tasmania v New South Wales, Pura Cup, 2nd day, Hobart March 1, 2008

Katich in charge of tricky New South Wales chase

Cricinfo staff

New South Wales 3 for 172 (Katich 86*, Hughes 73) trail Tasmania 398 (Di Venuto 144, Paine 72, Krejza 65) by 226 runs

Simon Katich, the leading batsman in the Pura Cup this season, holds the key for New South Wales after reaching 86 not out © Getty Images

The captain Simon Katich led from the front again as New South Wales chased two first-innings points that could prove vital for hosting the Pura Cup final. With two rounds to go the Blues need more points than Victoria, who share the lead on 33, and Katich gave them hope of moving ahead with an unbeaten 86 against Tasmania.

New South Wales were 3 for 172 at stumps on day two and require another 227 to overhaul the home side's first innings. Katich entered at the difficulty of 2 for 27, but he steadied the situation with the opener Phillip Hughes, who returned from Australia's Under-19 World Cup campaign after they lost in the quarter-finals. It was a successful decision as Hughes reached 73, his highest first-class score, before edging Brett Geeves to Tim Paine.

Paine had a successful day with bat and gloves, accepting the early catches of Phil Jaques (4) and Peter Forrest (8), but the Tigers could not remove Katich. His pulling was strong during his stay of 123 balls and he picked up 11 fours. He has the double incentive of points for his team and improving his chances of posting a domestic record after reaching 1245 runs for the season, 219 short of the mark held by Michael Bevan.

The morning started with Paine and Jason Krejza combining in an important stand of 129 after resuming at 6 for 291. The partnership was a great help to Tasmania and Paine was rewarded with 72 - he went to a run-out from Forrest - while Krejza scored 65 before he became the second of Dominic Thornely's two wickets. Mark Cameron finished the innings on 398 and collected 3 for 111.