Tigers jump to top despite Hodge hundred
Tasmania 8 for 290 (Dighton 95, Marsh 61, Harwood 5-41) beat Victoria 267 (Hodge 103, Crosthwaite 52, Divin 4-56, Geeves 3-64) by 23 runs
Brad Hodge's second century of the FR Cup campaign was not enough for Victoria, who lost for the first time this season as Tasmania jumped to the top of the table with a 23-run win. Michael Dighton made 95 to set up an imposing total of 290 and Brett Geeves and Mark Divin kept enough wickets coming to stave off Victoria's charge.
A 77-run stand between Hodge and Adam Crosthwaite (52) gave the Bushrangers hope but Divin and Geeves stayed on task. Divin finished with 4 for 56 and collected the important wicket of Crosthwaite, who was stumped advancing to the medium-pacer with Tim Paine up to the stumps.
Geeves was sporting a Movember moustache so delicate that he more resembled his fellow Tasmanian Errol Flynn than his fast-bowling predecessor Merv Hughes. Fortunately for the Tigers, he bowled more like Hughes than Flynn. He ended up with three wickets and the key was when he had Hodge caught at cover for 103.
The Tigers were desperately happy to see the back of Hodge after he rode his luck throughout the innings. Before he had reached 20 Hodge had survived two perilously tight lbw shouts from Xavier Doherty and was dropped by a leaping Daniel Marsh at cover. He was also put down on 94 but fortune was only part of the innings. Hodge played superbly and found the gaps with ease and he struck two magnificent sixes over long-on off Drew and Doherty.
He was forced to attack after Tasmania did well to build such a healthy total after Shane Harwood's third five-wicket haul in one-day games threatened to slow their progress. Harwood picked up three victims in the 46th over and was unlucky not to have another in the same over when he bowled Travis Birt off a questionable no-ball.
The Tigers quickly went from 4 for 234 to 7 for 236 and it was such a severe stumble that it could have derailed the strong start set up by Dighton and Marsh. However, Tasmania added 56 in the final five overs as Travis Birt and Brendan Drew struck some powerful sixes.
It was a good effort on a pitch that had definite green tinges and looked unlike the slow surfaces the MCG has provided over the past few years. Dighton was the key for the top order and he struck boundaries all around the ground in his 95 from 108 balls.
He pounced on anything short and slammed Jon Holland ten rows back over long-on. But he became the first of Harwood's victims when he walked across to off and tried to work the ball to leg but lost his middle stump to a clever yorker.
Harwood's success made the Victorian crowd - it was vocal but nearly as sparse as the audience in last week's Nagpur Test - think it might be their day. But 291 was too much to chase and Victoria could not extract revenge for last season's FR Cup final loss to the Tigers.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo