Cowan, Ponting keep Tasmania on top
Western Australia 142 and 1 for 33 trail Tasmania 363 (Cowan 143, Ponting 111, Behrendorff 4-85) by 188 runs
Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting both scored centuries to put Tasmania in a strong position to push for victory after two days against Western Australia. Should the Tigers beat the Warriors they would almost certainly earn a place in the Sheffield Shield final, and at stumps on day two in Hobart they led by 188 runs, with Western Australia at 1 for 33 in their second innings.
The Warriors had already lost Liam Davis, the tournament's leading run scorer this season, who was bowled by the in-form Jackson Bird for 9. Wes Robinson was at the crease on 9 and Shaun Marsh was on 12 but plenty of work remained for Western Australia, who entered the last round of games leading the Shield table but have now found themselves in danger of missing out on the final.
After they were skittled for 142 on the opening day, the Warriors failed to match Tasmania's impact with the ball as Cowan and Ponting compiled a 205-run partnership. Cowan continued his excellent season with his third hundred of the Shield campaign, while Ponting's return to state ranks has now brought scores of 75 not out in the Ryobi Cup final, 130 in the Shield last week and 111 in this game.
But Ponting's departure, bowled by Michael Hogan, sparked a collapse of sorts as five wickets fell for 23 runs. Cowan was caught at gully for 143 off the bowling of Jason Behrendorff, who in his fourth first-class appearance was impressive with 4 for 85. But the Tigers pushed on to 363 and it seemed that Western Australia needed something special to avoid defeat.