Boland strikes again after Harris and Short sparkle for Victoria
Victoria are closing in on the Sheffield Shield final after another strong day at the WACA
Western Australia 122 for 3 for 88 trail Victoria 298 (Harris 84, Short 82, Kellaway 64, Gannon 4-93) by 88 runs
Opener Marcus Harris hit a sublime 84 before quick Scott Boland again tormented Western Australia as Victoria moved closer to a pivotal Sheffield Shield victory at the WACA.
Enjoying a first innings lead of 176, Victoria's strong attack continually threatened late on day two with WA reaching stumps at 3 for 88.
After taking 4 for 29 in WA's first innings, having rushed back from Australia's Test tour of India, Boland dismissed opener Sam Whiteman lbw for a duck.
WA's woes deepened when teenager Teague Wyllie fell for 16 to leave the hosts in tatters at 2 for 25.
Routed for 122 on the opening day, particularly bogged down by Victoria's disciplined bowling, WA decided to play more aggressively as Hilton Cartwright led the way with a slew of fluent strokes.
He combined with opener Cameron Bancroft, the leading run-scorer this season, in a steadying half-century partnership to provide hope for WA
But Boland summoned one last burst before stumps and bowled Bancroft, who inside-edged onto his stumps attempting a drive.
Having already secured a home final starting on March 23, WA have so far been unable to match the intensity of a desperate Victoria who are locked in a fierce battle with second-placed Queensland for a spot in the decider.
After a dreary opening day, where just 192 runs were scored in 91 overs, left-handed Harris provided a spark as he sped past his half-century.
He was in imperious touch with sweet drives down the ground to dominate a weakened WA attack without regular quicks Joel Paris and Matt Kelly. Harris scored at a run-a-ball pace before out of nowhere being caught behind down the leg-side off seamer David Moody.
It was essentially Harris' first mistake in his 140-ball knock and the former Test player, who last played for Australia during the 2021-22 Ashes, knew he left a big score on the table.
Harris was furious with the dismissal and shouted his disgust as he trudged into Victoria's dressing room. But his wicket failed to halt Victoria's momentum with in-form Matt Short, who has scored three tons in his last five innings, in glorious form.
He drove beautifully down the ground to pounce on wayward bowling from WA's quicks, who were unable to conjure menacing movement like their counterparts from the previous day.
Short combined with 20-year-old Campbell Kellaway in a century partnership as Victoria eyed a massive first innings lead. After an uninspiring effort from WA's frontline seamers, Cartwright sparked his subdued team with a terrific spell in the second session.
Cartwright was selected as an allrounder for two Test matches in 2017, but rarely bowls these days. He had only bowled 4.4 overs in the Shield season before his six-over burst accounted for three wickets, including Kellaway for 64 off 167 balls. Cartwright triggered a slide for Victoria as Short's brilliant 95-ball innings ended when he mistimed to mid-off.
Victoria were left slightly disappointed at their vice-like grip on the contest being loosened, but they remain firmly in the box seat after Boland's late heroics.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth