Queensland v Victoria, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, 3rd day February 24, 2010

Victoria two wickets away from hosting final

Cricinfo staff

Queensland 170 and 8 for 174 (Hartley 33*, McDonald 3-44) need 77 runs to beat Victoria 316 and 104 (Hastings 49, Feldman 3-25)

Queensland charged back into the top-of-the-table contest at the start of the third day, but by stumps were staring at defeat after Victoria hit back strongly. The Bushrangers collapsed for 104 in their second innings, setting the Bulls a tough 251 for victory, and the hosts finished on 8 for 174 to conclude three dramatic sessions.

Seventeen wickets fell as the bowlers exploited the swing-friendly conditions and another two breakthroughs on the final morning will seal a home final for Victoria. That result would leave Queensland to fight off the claims of the other four teams over the last two rounds. However, Chris Hartley, who was 33 when bad light stopped play, and Chris Swan (3) are in charge of performing a miracle.

Queensland suffered early in the chase when they were 3 for 38, but Lee Carseldine (34) and Craig Philipson put on 45 before they both fell to dampen the local hopes. Andrew McDonald's medium pace gained three wickets in the middle of the innings to improve Victoria's position before Ben Cutting's run-a-ball 34.

Victoria began the day with a 151-run lead but they were soon in serious danger as they tumbled to 6 for 26 in a horror opening. There was plenty in the pitch for the local bowlers and the trio of Luke Feldman, James Hopes and Chris Swan shared nine wickets. McDonald was the unhappiest of the dismissed batsmen after being given out to a catch at short-leg by Wade Townsend, which the allrounder thought had dropped short.

John Hastings' 49 must have felt like a century - the next top scores were 11s to Michael Hill and Matthew Wade - and is likely to be the most important contribution over the final two innings of the game. When Hastings was the last man out Victoria were feeling comfortable again knowing the hosts would need something extra special to win.