Brisbane: After an atrocious start against Victoria on the opening day of the Sheffield Shield clash on Wednesday, Queensland on Thursday moved to within 98 runs of outright victory - and the big prize of hosting next week's final.
At stumps on the second day of a bizarre match, Queensland was 66 for one, with first-time captain Martin Love on 34 and rookie opener Daniel Payne on 16, after being set a winning target of 164. Queensland ended the day in a strong position despite being skittled for 107 in its first innings - to trail by 41 runs - as paceman Will Carr claimed a career-best six for 46 and speedster Matthew Inness snapped up four for 31. The Queenslanders, knowing they could miss out on playing in the showdown unless they win outright, routed Victoria for 122 in its second innings. In Hobart, Tasmania powered to a first-innings 401, giving them a lead of 237 over New South Wales (NSW), ousted for 164 the previous day. Michael Dighton smacked 84 and Jamie Cox 72 in a strong team batting display which still appears to have the Islanders on target for an outright win which would probably be enough to steer them to the competition final, though not at home if the Queenslanders beat Victoria. New South Wales showed greater resistance in its second knock, going to stumps with 65 without loss as Corey Richards (34 not out) and Matthew Phelps (29 not out) began solidly. In Perth, little left-hander Chris Rogers hit 101 not out - his first century in first-class ranks - as Western Australia made a first-innings 346 for seven declared against South Australia. Former Test batsman Greg Blewett (64) and Chris Davies (42) led a resolute response by South Australia, which was 229 for five at stumps. Both teams are keen to wrap up an outright victory to boost their dwindling hopes of snatching a place in the final.
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