Holland outshines Katich comeback
Victoria 331 for 8 (White 76, Wade 74, Stoinis 63, Behrendorff 3-66, Tye 3-80) beat Western Australia 272 (Katich 67, Holland 4-48) by 59 runs
If Simon Katich channelled the ghost of Australian batting past with a staunch rearguard for Western Australia, then Jon Holland offered further hope for the nation's spin bowling future by driving Victoria to their fourth victory in five domestic limited overs matches at a sun draped North Sydney Oval.
Recalled to play his first match for WA in more than a decade, and set the task of inspiring the Warriors' callow youth, Katich outperformed them all, striking 67 crisp runs that left more than a few observers wondering at the wisdom of the national selectors discarding him so brusquely in 2011. But it was Holland who played the game's most pivotal role, winkling out four wickets on a batsmen's pitch with his combination of flight, subtle pace variations and unwavering accuracy.
As notable as Holland's figures of 4-48 is, the fact is that he has put together a sequence of strong analyses in the competition, returning figures of 2-43, 1-39, 1-37 and 2-39 to become the tournament's leading wicket-taker so far. Continued progress will not only press Victoria's bid for an early trophy but also usher a call-up, if not for Australia then certainly for the Australia A team to face England in Hobart in early November.
"It certainly helps that you get into a rhythm. You're confident and it just keeps rolling on," Holland said. "As a group we've gone well. We had a little hiccup last game, but we've had four wins now and playing well together, and looking forward to the next couple of games.
"It's a little bit nerve-wracking here, the short boundaries and not much spin in the wicket, but you expect to go for runs here and if you don't it's a bonus. We got 330 so I knew I was always going to be targeted, and they were always going to try to put me over the ropes, but today it went my way."
After making an Australia ODI tour of India in 2010, Holland battled injuries and indifferent form. He was at the forefront of the national selector John Inverarity's thinking at the outset of last summer, before a serious shoulder injury made him wait again. At 26, his summer of plenty may finally be about to arrive.
Holland had been given a sufficient tally to bowl at on North Sydney's equable pitch, small circumference and quicksilver outfield by a trio of contrasting innings by Marcus Stoinis, the captain Matthew Wade and his in-form predecessor Cameron White. The Bushrangers did not quite enjoy the late innings spike they had been subjected to courtesy of Ben Cutting and Queensland on Sunday, but 331 turned out to be far too many for WA once Shaun Marsh had a promising innings curtailed by a debatable lbw verdict in Holland's favour.
Victoria had begun in slightly halting manner, with Ryan Duffield moving the ball in the morning air and beating the bat frequently. Rob Quiney grew in fluency, and glided to 37 before punching back a difficult chance that Andrew Tye held smartly in his follow-through. Stoinis had been more circumspect, but he stuck around in the company of the busy Wade to build the tally, and spread his wings as the innings progressed with a pair of straight hits from Tye.
His departure allowed White to join Wade and the scoring rate picked up noticeably. White's confidence is presently as high as it has been for some time, and he took a liking to the spin of the WA captain Michael Beer among others, clubbing six sixes and looking on course for a century before taking one swing too many at Jake Behrendorff.
WA's chase began on a sound enough note, but Cameron Bancroft's exit, snicking Scott Boland behind, was to start a trend of partnerships that were more pesky than powerful. Marsh looked the man most likely to challenge the total as he begins his bid for a return to the Test team after his latest bout of hamstring trouble, but the second of two lbw appeals by Holland on the sweep drew the umpire's raised finger, even if the ball did not appear headed for the stumps.
Katich walked to the wicket with the target edging beyond the horizon, but played with characteristic grit and no little flair to keep the Warriors from subsiding by too wide a margin. His departure to Dan Christian effectively marked the end of the contest.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here