Victoria 298 & 3 for 64 (Harris 29, Short 23*, Gannon 1-9) beat Western Australia 122 & 236 (Cartwright 82, Boland 4-69, Perry 3-44) by seven wickets
Victoria recorded a confidence-boosting seven-wicket victory over Western Australia at the WACA to set-up a rematch between the teams in next week’s Sheffield Shield final.
Chasing just 61 runs to book a spot in the decider starting on March 23, after day three was halted by rain and bad light, Victoria endured several wobbles before achieving the target in the 27th over.
Victoria leapfrogged Queensland into second place as they eye redemption after falling short against WA in last season’s decider, which finished in a draw.
Victoria has enjoyed a spectacular rise since the resumption of the Shield season last month with four straight victories to storm into the final.
“I thought we were staring down the barrel of a wooden spoon,” Victoria coach Chris Rogers said after the match. “We’ve just had this fantastic run built on the back of a lot of younger players as well which has been pleasing.
“You kind of think the bubble might burst a little bit with some of our inexperience but they’ve just continued to get the job done.”
Victoria will return home to Melbourne for a few days before making the long journey back to Perth ahead of the final.
“It will be tough and there will be heartache for a couple of guys but this is part of being professional sportsmen, you’ve got to deal with these selection issues,” Rogers said.
It was WA’s first loss of the season at home and they appeared mostly lethargic throughout having already secured hosting rights for the final.
“We fully expect all three to be fit and firing and ready to go,” WA coach Adam Voges said. “We’ll take a lot of lessons out of this week and I think that will help us in our preparation for next week.”
Even though a victory appeared inevitable, experienced openers Harris and Travis Dean were not taking anything for granted amid the high stakes on the fourth morning. They didn’t score in the opening couple of overs before Dean was bowled by quick Charlie Stobo for a duck.
Harris and emerging batter Ashley Chandrasinghe survived several nervous moments as allrounder Aaron Hardie menaced with the new ball. Chandrasinghe was all at sea before falling for two to seamer David Moody to end his painstaking 49-ball innings.
Ashes hopeful Harris, who top-scored with 84 in the first innings, showcased trademark drives before falling for 29 as Victoria wobbled at 3 for 32. But Short, amid a purple patch, dispatched several attractive boundaries to seal Victoria’s place in the final.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth