Wright keeps pressure on fighting Blues
New South Wales 6 for 215 (Forrest 58, Wright 3-30) v Victoria
Damien Wright made life difficult for New South Wales on a tightly-contested opening day, but Peter Forrest helped ensure Victoria didn't completely dominate play. Forrest, Dominic Thornely and Phil Jaques toiled hard to get the Blues to 6 for 215 at the close of a protracted day that began an hour late due to Melbourne's stormy weather and ran until bad light stopped play at 7.10pm.
Forrest and Thornely put on 79 for the fifth wicket and pushed New South Wales on to 4 for 173, which was a decent fightback after Wright left them at 2 for 26. In his second Sheffield Shield match of the summer after recovering from a calf injury, and having been Man of the Match in his only other appearance, Wright struck twice in an over to back David Hussey's decision to send the Blues in.
Phillip Hughes' poor run of form continued when he was caught at slip off Wright for 14 and Simon Katich followed for a duck after a good offcutter clipped his edge and he was caught behind. Forrest, who was also playing his second game of the 2009-10 campaign, helped steady the innings with Jaques, who looked solid until a blow to the foot from a John Hastings yorker left him in need of a runner.
Wright played a part in the dismissal of Jaques, who prodded at Darren Pattinson and was well snapped up for 47 by Wright diving forward at gully. Steve Smith will want to forget his tentative hook off Hastings that flicked the edge and was taken by Matthew Wade but the New South Wales resistance solidified after that lapse.
Thornely and Forrest locked down and each scored at a strike-rate of 30 as they aimed primarily for crease occupation against a Victorian outfit for whom victory would make a home final a strong possibility. Hastings ended their stand with the old ball when Forrest was snaffled low to the ground by David Hussey at second slip for 58 from 188 deliveries.
Thornely did manage one six - straight down the ground off Jon Holland - but misjudged a leave when Wright returned with the second new ball and was lbw for 44 off 143 balls. At stumps Victoria needed to finish off the lower order - Daniel Smith was on 15 and Steve O'Keefe also had 15 - and they were also hoping their star opener Chris Rogers would recover from a virus that kept him off the ground for the whole first day.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo