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March 18, 2011
Tasmania 6 for 411 (Cowan 133, Faulkner 71, Butterworth 74*, Copeland 3-108) trail New South Wales 440 (Hughes 138, Doherty 3-67) by 29 runs
Tasmania's middle order scrapped and fought through an absorbing third day of the Sheffield Shield final between Tasmania and New South Wales in Hobart. Led early in the day by a gritty 133 from Ed Cowan, the Tigers controlled the day's play on a flat wicket at the Bellerive Oval. Contributions from Mark Cosgrove (47), James Faulkner (71) and Luke Butterworth (74*) put the home side in a commanding position at stumps on day three.
Cosgrove batted with uncharacteristic patience, at one stage seeing out 36 consecutive dot balls as he and Cowan ground out an important 116-run stand, before he was unfortunately and seemingly incorrectly given out caught down the leg side. Cowan's dismissal looked dubious too, with the centurion given out off the bowling of Steven O'Keefe for an inside edge onto the pad that was caught by Phil Jaques under the helmet. Replays suggested he didn't get close to it.
To write the Blues' performance in the field off as lucky, however, would be unfair, as their pace attack, led by Trent Copeland (3 for 108 off 50 overs) toiled manfully creating a number of chances throughout the day. Copeland and Pat Cummins (2 for 103) bowled brilliantly in tandem after drinks in the first session, beating the bat on countless occasions. Cummins, 17, has added a lethal inswinger to his repertoire and continues to impress in just his first season of state cricket.
The reward eventually came with the wicket of Cosgrove, but the Tigers again dug in to avoid the dreaded middle-order collapse; Blues keeper Peter Nevill not helping the visitors' cause when he dropped a straightforward edge from Faulkner when he was on just 21. After Cowan's dismissal, Butterworth and Faulkner batted without risk and looked to be cruising towards stumps until Faulkner spooned a Cummins full toss to mid-off, ending their 100-run stand.
The Blues need wickets early on day four with the third new ball, as their slim chances of victory fade with every hour of cricket that passes.
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