Warner ton sets up comfortable NSW win
New South Wales 3 for 314 (Warner 138, Smith 65*, Nevill 53) beat Victoria 8 for 311 (Wade 85, Hussey 71, White 50, Hazlewood 4-57, Abbott 3-61) by seven wickets
David Warner mimed an upper cut in the direction of the North Sydney Oval press box upon reaching a century that set New South Wales on their way to a commanding defeat of Victoria. If the Sydney newspapers have provided motivation for Warner, it is the nation's bowlers feeling the greater sting, as a second coruscating hundred in as many matches confirmed the opener's resolve to keep his place in the Test team, and also to help the Blues triumph in the domestic limited-overs tournament.
There had been some regret about Warner's similarly brazen 139 against Queensland on Thursday, for his dismissal hastened a batting slide and a loss to the Bulls. This time, against a Bushrangers attack including Peter Siddle and John Hastings, Warner's opening stand of 202 with a measured Peter Nevill put the Blues well and truly on course for a win that the captain, Steven Smith, secured with another innings of composure, maturity and dash.
While the composition of the team for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane is still some way from being decided, Warner's runs and the manner of their making will help convince the selectors of his value. Rod Marsh was on hand to glimpse Warner against Queensland, and on Sunday it was Darren Lehmann who saw his fellow left-hander swatting Siddle to all parts, though perishing to an impudent switch-hit attempt that neither batsman nor coach will want to see repeated.
"I've always kept backing myself, I've used the stuff in the media that the papers always write as a positive for me, it keeps me going," Warner said of his celebration. "From the get-go, I've been feeling good, in the nets I've been playing very well, but you can't get them in the nets, you've got to come out and perform.
"I just backed myself, played my strokes and it's good to see the boys all of us gelling together and playing so well. Smithy has got four half-centuries so far and he's done the job for us. For me, it's about being still, I've done that on both occasions now, trying to be as consistent as I can, hopefully we can come out on Tuesday [against South Australia] and back it up to get another win on the board."
NSW have now secured a place on the competition's top three alongside the Bushrangers and the Bulls. It remains to be seen who will finish top of the table and thus go straight to the competition decider, avoiding the elimination final between teams two and three. Victoria have lost a little of their earlier momentum, and can do no better than second. Queensland can be tipped out of the top rank by losing to Tasmania on Tuesday, provided the Blues beat the Redbacks by a wide enough margin in a day/night affair at Drummoyne Oval.
Sunday's match followed a pattern familiar to anyone who has watched limited-overs matches at North Sydney over the past 20 years. Victoria were sent in by Smith, who watched Gurinder Sandhu and Josh Hazlewood exploit a little early life in the pitch to have the openers Marcus Stoinis and Rob Quiney offering catches to the cordon with only 29 runs added. It was a passage in sharp contrast to the early progress of the Blues in their chase.
From there conditions eased, and a trio of efficient innings by Matthew Wade, Cameron White and David Hussey hurried the Bushrangers to a tally beyond 300. The termination of White's innings via a skier to Steve O'Keefe on the midwicket boundary was critical, preventing him from continuing on the sharp upward trend of his scoring after a subdued start.
Victoria's total was duly prevented from reaching a mark beyond the range of Warner and Smith on a balmy Sunday afternoon. The hosts wobbled briefly following Warner's exit, Nevill and Maddinson both out to indeterminate strokes, but Smith sized up the task with typical thoroughness before closing it down with considerable flourish.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here