Victoria 9 for 337 (Harris 103, Maxwell 60) lead South Australia 322 all out (Lehmann 103, Cooper 70, Boland 4-71) by 15 runs
Glenn Maxwell reminded the selection chairman Trevor Hohns of his desire to stay in the Australian Test team and Marcus Harris showed flashes of brilliance in a century that took Victoria into a first innings lead over South Australia, before the Redbacks fired back with the second new ball to leave the Sheffield Shield match tantalisingly poised after two days at the MCG.
Playing with a considered, determined approach that mirrored his first Test century in Ranchi earlier this year, Maxwell made it as far as 60 before he was unfortunate to be dismissed when a Daniel Worrall short ball deflected from his body onto the stumps on the stroke of tea. The manner of the dismissal, in the face of a concerted short-pitched attack by Worrall, emphasised how Maxwell had been trying to occupy the crease rather than going for his many shots at every opportunity.
In making his third Shield hundred for the Bushrangers, meanwhile, Harris showcased the talent that led to his selection by Western Australia as a teenager, now allied to greater consistency than he was able to demonstrate with the Warriors. He and Aaron Finch took a particular toll on the wrist spin of Adam Zampa, who claimed the opening wicket of the innings but was taken for more than six an over.
Zampa had been unfortunate when he lured Harris out of his crease with the opener on 47. Alex Carey, considered a chance to take the wicketkeeper's spot in the Australian Ashes XI, was unable to complete the chance, though he was later to claim a neat diving catch to dismiss Daniel Christian.
As stumps neared, the Bushrangers seemed certain to build a major advantage, but the captain Peter Handscomb was freakishly caught and bowled by a diving Jake Lehmann, and after Worrall found some reverse swing to nab Sam Harper lbw a further four wickets went down in the space of two overs with the second new ball. Chadd Sayers claimed three of these in the final over of the day, the last two with consecutive balls to leave him on a hat-trick with one wicket of the Victorian innings available on day three.