Match Report – VIC vs WA 29th Match, March 11 – 13, 2024

Western Australia 244 (Boland 4-41) and 168 (Bancroft 58, Inglis 45, Boland 4-51) beat Victoria 144 (Short 53, Gannon 5-42) and 130 (Kellaway 53, Haskett 3-12) by 138 runs

Western Australia booked a third straight home Sheffield Shield final after defeating Victoria and leapfrogging Tasmania to top spot on the ladder.

The dual defending champions needed everything to go right in their last regular-season game to keep alive their hopes of a Shield three-peat. They rose to the challenge, defeating Victoria by 138 runs in a virtual elimination final at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.

Set 269 to win, Victoria were skittled for 130 late on a rain-affected day three of the match. The home side never looked like pulling off the unlikely run chase on a difficult pitch, stumbling to 31 for 3 with their three most experienced batters – Nic Maddinson, Marcus Harris and Peter Handscomb – already dismissed.

Harris was superbly held low down at second slip by Cameron Bancroft off Joel Paris then Maddinson was cleaned up from around the wicket by Cameron Gannon who had set up WA’s strong position with five wickets in the first innings.

Young left-hander Campbell Kellaway showed why he has a bright future, hitting 53 from 136 balls for his fifth first-class half-century.

After coming in at No. 3, Kellaway survived the carnage around him as WA’s bowlers worked in tandem to complete the match on Wednesday.

Spinner Corey Rocchiccioli went through the lower order to be on a hat-trick after dismissing Fergus O’Neill and Todd Murphy in consecutive balls.

Left-armer Liam Haskett finished with the best figures of his first-class career, including the key scalp of Matt Short lbw from around the wicket, and ended the match after Kellaway was caught going for a slog pull shot.

Victoria captain Will Sutherland almost broke down when describing the pain of the defeat.

“Our batting let us dow …the boys ran out of steam a little bit with the ball,” he said. “We’re still a young group, but I think this one does hurt quite a bit …almost hurts more than making the final and losing, I don’t know why.”

Sutherland (back), Test quick Scott Boland (knee) and O’Neill (illness) all struggled through the match.

WA will host the five-day final against Tasmania at the WACA Ground, starting on March 21, after the Tigers blew a golden opportunity to ensure the decider was played in Hobart.

Tasmania started the round in the box seat to secure a home final, only needing to defeat South Australia at Blundstone Arena to lock it in.

WA are aiming to become just the third team this century, after Queensland (2000-02) and Victoria (2015-17), to win three straight Shield titles.

Tasmania won the last of their three Shield finals back in 2012-13 when Ricky Ponting was still playing.

“The pleasing thing about this group is there’s no real talk about three in a row,” WA captain Sam Whiteman said. “It’s just about winning this year, and we’ve found this year that Shields are so hard to win, a lot of things need to go your way.”

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