New South Wales suffer from Siddle shocks
New South Wales 8 for 266 (Katich 86, Haddin 63, Jaques 53, Siddle 4-57) v Victoria
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Brad Haddin came to the rescue to make sure Simon Katich's efforts were not totally wasted on a tense, see-sawing opening day of the Pura Cup final. The momentum shifted on a handful of occasions, mainly thanks to the outstanding Peter Siddle, but on a pitch that should become trickier as the contest continues, New South Wales will not be too upset with their 8 for 266.
Victoria started strongly, fought back either side of tea, when they reduced the home team from 2 for 163 to 5 for 189, and finished with two wickets in three balls. Haddin almost managed to guide the Blues to stumps and had 63 when he was lbw playing back to a jagging off-cutter from Siddle. Stumps were called and Victoria left with their spirit renewed.
The Blues, who are full of stars, needed the contributions from the players who have spent much of the season with the state side. Haddin is preparing for his elevation to the Test team following Adam Gilchrist's retirement and he showed he was ready with a mature display on a pitch offering variable bounce.
Arriving after tea, he drove his second ball past mid-off for four and planted Bryce McGain for a straight boundary in the next over. Another seven were added in a clever and controlled innings that built on the work of Phil Jaques and Katich.
Jaques was out of sorts but fought for 53, a haul which gained in significance after he left, and Katich moved calmly to 86, leaving him needing 51 in the second innings to pass Michael Bevan's domestic season record of 1464 runs. What was more important for the hosts, who only need a draw to seal the trophy, was they were able to re-start after losing Katich, Michael Clarke and Dominic Thornely.
New South Wales looked like heading to tea with both Katich and Clarke unbeaten, but their high hopes of a huge total were shattered when Katich slipped to McGain and Clarke (13) was lbw pushing forward to an inswinger from Dirk Nannes, the left-arm fast man who had switched to around the wicket. The swift change was a suitable reward for the Bushrangers as the fast men had toiled without much luck for most of the first two sessions.
It was not an easy day for batting, but Katich worked through the discomfort after arriving in the second over when Phillip Hughes edged to David Hussey on 6. The ball moved off the pitch and in the air for long periods and the fast men gained some wicked reverse-swing. Spin will also play a part and Cameron White and McGain have already achieved useful turn.
McGain broke through with the dismissal of Katich for 86 to start the mini-slide. Katich went down the pitch and his clip to midwicket was intercepted by a leaping Nick Jewell, who collected the ball above his head. The Victorians celebrated the batsman's mistake, which was the only one he had made since being dropped by Brad Hodge at short midwicket on 11.
After winning the toss, Katich hit his first ball for four through midwicket and controlled New South Wales' run-gathering until he departed. He drove well on the offside, unleashed a few strong pulls and managed to pierce Victoria's restrictive fields. Ten fours were struck, including consecutive boundaries off McGain, and Katich narrowly missed his sixth century of the campaign.
The stand of 117 with Jaques formed a solid base and took advantage of a Victoria mistake after lunch when they used Hodge and Andrew McDonald for 11 overs instead of their impressive front-liners. Siddle was eventually called and immediately looked a threat, picking up Jaques when he was caught on the crease.
Siddle was the most effective of a well-rounded attack and he looked exhausted after gaining his third wicket from a Beau Casson (17) edge with the second new ball. He also had success in the morning, his off-cutter capturing Hughes' nick, and he came back in the shadows to rap Brett Lee on the body and attack him with a few short balls. Nannes bowled Lee with an arcing delivery in the second last over before Siddle finished the day with Haddin's lbw.
His return of 4 for 57 was extremely satisfying and Nannes and Shane Harwood were also uncomfortable prospects. While the bowlers kept the Bushrangers in a strong position, they will be wary of the next couple of days when they encounter Lee, Clark, Bracken and MacGill on a testing surface.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo