New South Wales edges closer to final berth

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Third-placed New South Wales edged closer to a Sheffield Shield cricket appearance by knocking over Victoria for 169 on the opening day of their match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

NSW were in a powerful position at 132 for one from 37 overs in reply at stumps on Thursday.

Phil Jaques was unbeaten on 73 after adding 131 for the first wicket with Greg Mail, who was out for 55 in the penultimate over of the day.

Victoria lasted only 58.2 overs to be all out at tea with Nick Jewell playing a lone hand of 80, his maiden half-century, while Test leg spinner Stuart MacGill captured 3-52.

NSW are locked in a three-way battle with Western Australia and competition leaders Queensland for a place in the March 18-21 final.

Queensland reached 302 for eight before heavy rain forced an early end to play on the opening day of their match against West Australia at the Gabba.

Andrew Symonds topscored with 62 and Test all-rounder Shane Watson contributed 60. Brett Dorey, who left the field in his eighth over midway through the day with a side strain, claimed 3-28.

Queensland only need to claim first innings points to secure their sixth home final in seven seasons while Western Australia require an outright victory for the final to be played in Perth next weekend.

Michael Bevan broke two batting records for an Australian domestic first-class cricket season -- the most runs and the most centuries -- as he dominated the opening day of Tasmania's game against South Australia at Adelaide Oval.

The former Test batsman, who moved to Tasmania from New South Wales this season, scored 115 to help Tasmania to 248 for four at stumps.

It made him the highest run-scorer ever in a Sheffield Shield season, his tally of 1,420 in his ninth match taking him past Victorian opener Matthew Elliott, who scored 1,381 runs in 11 matches last season.

It also gave him the most centuries in a Shield season, with Thursday's hundred taking him to the record of eight centuries in his nine games with Tasmania, and helping his season average to 101.43.

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