Hodge confident Victoria can fight back
Victoria can still win the Pura Cup final provided they end New South Wales' second innings before the close of the third day, according to Brad Hodge. The match turned in the Blues' favour when Brett Lee rattled out the Victoria tail as the visitors lost their last seven wickets for 50, to hand the hosts a first-innings lead of 65 runs.
Hodge made 84 and when he and Cameron White were still at the crease at 3 for 166 an advantage for the Bushrangers seemed likely. However, Victoria are renowned for chasing down big totals and Hodge said they were by no means out of the contest.
"We were in a position that could have been a lot better for us," Hodge told the Age. "If we're batting [Monday] I think we're a chance of winning the game, I think we need to hopefully try to bowl them out for 200. We can chase down 260, 270, we've done it before.
"Hopefully if things go all right with the ball we can chase down something less than that. They're figures we have chased down before, we have faced some adversity and we've hung in there all year. Our back's up against the wall slightly at the moment, but we'll come out firing hopefully."
Hodge said his own dismissal was purely an error of judgment as he wrongly assumed Stuart MacGill's legbreak would turn past the off stump, however he said Victoria were unlucky to lose the dangerous David Hussey for 22. Hussey was given out caught at slip off Michael Clarke, although replays suggested the ball had only struck Hussey's foot.
"I didn't think he hit it," Hodge said in the Herald Sun. "An extremely disappointing moment. Obviously myself and Huss bat pretty well together. He's a great natural striker of the ball and it was a very disappointing end to his innings. Whenever you take David Hussey out of the game, it's a turning point."
The loss of Victoria's middle-order men opened the door for Lee to remove the tail and he finished with 4 for 72 despite having struggled to 0 for 66 in his 16th over. Until then the Blues' Test-quality attack had not had the impact many expected.
"I guess what happened out there today proves that cricket can be a funny game," Lee told the Daily Telegraph. "I suppose this summer my key saying has been to stay nice and patient. There were times I thought I was bowling well. I bowled well at the start, then in the middle overs they didn't land where I wanted them to. I came off at lunch and was able to regain that positiveness and I took that out for the last session."