Centuries from Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott give NSW a chance of an astonishing victory

Late wickets for Trent Copeland capped a perfect day for the Blues, although Mitchell Starc was left frustrated

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Sean Abbott celebrates his maiden first-class century  •  Getty Images

Sean Abbott celebrates his maiden first-class century  •  Getty Images

Tasmania 239 and 2 for 26 (Copeland 2-7) need 322 more runs to beat New South Wales 64 and 6 for 522 dec (Larkin 161, Henriques 113, Abbott 102*, Starc 86*)
Centuries from Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott and two late strikes from Trent Copeland put New South Wales in position to pull off one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Sheffield Shield history.
Having been bowled out for 64 on the opening day, the Blues third-lowest total in Shield history, and having trailed on the first innings by 175, a phenomenal batting display from Nick Larkin, Henriques, Abbott, and Mitchell Starc gave them a chance to declare their third innings and set Tasmania 347 to win, with 13 overs left in the third day.
The declaration proved a master-stroke with Copeland removing both Tasmania openers to leave Matthew Wade and nightwatchman Peter Siddle to survive until stumps.
Earlier in the day, Henriques cruised to his 12th first-class century and his partnership with Larkin, which had rescued the Blues from a perilous position on the second day, reached 250. Henriques was out shortly after, nicking Siddle to second slip.
Larkin passed 150 for the second time in his Sheffield Shield career but his dismissal for 161 was a career-first. He was squared up by a peach of a delivery from Gabe Bell and held the pose of his squared up defensive stroke, but both feet were outside the popping crease. Tim Paine under-armed a throw at the stumps quickly and hit with Larkin stood still as a statue, dumbfounded and stumped.
That was the last wicket Tasmania took as Abbott and Starc piled on the pain with a soul-destroying unbeaten 189-run partnership for the seventh wicket. The pair plundered 13 fours and seven sixes between them, feasting mainly on the part-time offerings of Beau Webster and Jake Doran. Drinks had to be called at one stage because one of Starc's blows over midwicket could not be found.
Abbott brought up his maiden first-class century with a delightful clip off his toes wide of mid-on and the Blues immediately declared leaving Starc 14 runs shy of his maiden hundred and less than impressed with his captain Peter Nevill. But it was the right move as Charlie Wakim edged Copeland in the third over with Abbott plucking a sensational catch low to his right at third slip.
Jordan Silk, after holding NSW at bay with a fine century in the first innings, was Copeland's second victim to leave Tasmania with a huge mountain to climb on the final day.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne