Duel cut short by bad light
Day three New South Wales 442 and 3 for 77 (Maddinson 34*) lead Tasmania 8 for 298 declared (Cosgrove 84, Butterworth 65*, Bollinger 3-60) by 221 runs
A largely slogging day at a sultry and occasionally windswept Bankstown Oval nevertheless featured a handful of moments to cause seasoned watchers of the Sheffield Shield to crane their necks in recognition of their significance.
New South Wales fought both Tasmania's lower order and a benign pitch for much of the day as they sought to press home what always looked likely to be a sizeable first innings advantage. But the Tigers declared smartly upon avoiding the follow-on mark, and so gave themselves a chance of a final afternoon chase for six points provided forecast rain does not arrive.
The Blues' efforts to build on their lead were cut short by bad light, after being restricted somewhat by Tasmania's bowlers. Luke Butterworth had struck with the first ball of the innings when he pinned Peter Nevill LBW on the crease. It is a mode of dismissal the promoted wicketkeeper has now fallen afoul of three times in four Shield innings, possibly suggesting the need for a technical revision.
Scott Henry also fell cheaply, driving at Jackson Bird's angle and edging behind to Tim Paine, and while Michael Clarke made another start, he was helpless when James Faulkner coaxed one delivery to kick up, taking the gloves for Paine to take a diving catch. Faulkner is a fast medium bowler with the knack for a surprise shorter ball, something discovered by no less a batsman than Chris Gayle during last summer's BBL.
Nic Maddinson and Steve Smith took the Blues to the close, Maddinson playing some exceedingly handsome strokes on his way to an unbeaten 34. Though his ability is undoubted, prior to this innings Maddinson had scores of 15, 0, 30 and 0, so he will hope to take his fluency into the final morning.
A series of decent lower order contributions had sustained the Tigers after they slipped to 6 for 154. Mark Cosgrove could not go on to the century his ball striking had suggested was likely, pushing a catch to midwicket off Trent Copeland, before Tim Paine's 23 was ended by a moment to hearten Australia's selectors.
Steve Smith bowled his leg breaks intelligently in a pair of brief spells, and Brad Haddin stayed down expertly to hold a smart catch when Paine tried to cut a flatter delivery. Smith's bowling remains developmental, but in the current selection climate his ability to keep developing the art will be looked upon kindly. Haddin's gloves were assured, giving up only one bye in 109 overs.
Thereafter Butterworth, Faulkner and Jason Krejza prolonged the innings with doughty displays, though the sight of Doug Bollinger sending Krejza's middle stump cart-wheeling gave another reminder the left-armer is fitter this summer than he has been for some time.
If the weather does have the final say, then a tantalising final day scenario will be wasted. But there has been enough for the selector on duty Rod Marsh to take note of, and the people of Sydney's western suburbs to appreciate.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here