November 24, 2002

Faultless Victoria in search of outright win over SA

Adam Cooper

MELBOURNE, Nov 24 AAP - Victoria's near faultless Pura Cup effort against South Australia at the MCG today had all the hallmarks of an Australian-esque performance.

The Bushrangers' huge total came on the back of dashing lower order batting followed up with brilliant fielding and late wickets to make victory a certainty tomorrow, barring bad weather.

At stumps on day three South Australia was 5-161, needing another 166 to make Victoria bat again after the Bushrangers declared at 9-529, with Jon Moss unbeaten on 103.

Moss took up where Matthew Elliott (191) and Brad Hodge (96) left off yesterday to cement his spot in the Victorian top order after making his name largely as a bowling allrounder.

Moss had good support from the tail, with brisk partnerships of 50 with Cameron White (22), 42 with captain Darren Berry (16) and 47 with Shane Harwood (24).

Even number 11 Mathew Inness did his job, calmly pushing a single to give Moss the chance to bring up his ton.

"I just thought if he (Inness) happened to get out when I was on 99 or 98 well so be it, it wasn't the be-all and end-all, but it was great the way it worked out," Moss said.

"I'm very happy, it's only my second first-class hundred and I've played the last couple of games and had a little bit of a lean spell but it's just a great feeling."

Victoria followed its best batting effort in eight years - since 1994-95 on the back of a Dean Jones triple ton - with razor-sharp fielding.

Hodge ran out David Fitzgerald with a direct hit after the opener ran down the wicket after an lbw shout.

Hodge later made a diving stop at mid-wicket off Shane Deitz and his throw had the Redback keeper stranded mid-pitch after a mix-up with Mark Higgs.

Michael Klinger also joined the party, taking two blinders in the gully to dismiss danger men Greg Blewett (25) and Ben Johnson (51), the pair who carved big centuries in the Redbacks' win over Victoria in Adelaide last month.

South Australia's hopes of staying in touch of Victoria on the points table will rest with Higgs and Mick Miller, who top-scored in the first innings 202 after Blewett won the toss and batted.

Rain caused the loss of 25 minutes today, but South Australia will need bucketloads tomorrow to survive.