Sheffield Shield 2015-16

Vics with one hand on Shield title

The Bushrangers are within touching distance of the Sheffield Shield, after a strong fourth day of the final against the Redbacks

Martin Smith, at Gliderol Stadium, Glenelg

29 March 2016, 07:59 PM

Victoria within touching distance of Shield title

Only a significant final-day collapse can prevent Victoria from claiming a 30th Sheffield Shield title after the Bushrangers moved into a dominant position on the fourth day of the season decider against South Australia.

Victoria ended the penultimate day at Glenelg's Gliderol Stadium on 2-95, needing a further 98 runs on Wednesday to become the first visiting side in 11 years to win a Shield decider.

With no rain forecast, only a remarkable fightback from the Redbacks - who are without injured paceman Chadd Sayers - can prevent the Vics from claiming back-to-back titles.

The home side added 114 to their second innings total early on day four before they were dismissed for 251, with Bushrangers spinner Jon Holland picking up his seventh and eighth wickets of the match in a standout performance.

Needing 193 to win, the Bushrangers lost Rob Quiney early before first-innings century-maker Travis Dean (54) steadied the run chase with Marcus Stoinis (17) and Peter Handscomb (18) the not out batsmen at the close.

WATCH: Dominant Dean continues fine form

"It's a good position (to be in) but the opposition just keeps coming at us and making it extremely hard for us, which you'd expect in a final," said Bushrangers coach David Saker.

"They've been really brave and they've really stood up so it's still going to be a really tough battle tomorrow.

"We've probably had a bit of luck along the way. We've played and missed more times than they did, but in saying that we've hung in there really tough as well which is a testament to us.

"Having one of their bowlers (Sayers) go down injured has been an advantage to us and not having a (frontline) spinner has probably helped us now as well."

Resuming on 4-137, a lead of 78, Redbacks pair Jake Weatherald and Alex Ross began well in a tense opening hour that raised the prospect the home side could set a target in excess of 250, a figure Weatherald had nominated the previous evening.

The pair added a further 60 runs to take their partnership beyond 100 before the impressive Weatherald lost his concentration when a maiden first-class hundred was within reach.

WATCH: Weatherald succumbs to nervous 90s

With his run rate having slowed approaching the milestone, the left-hander looked to go after legspinner Fawad Ahmed and his ultra-aggressive approach proved to be his undoing.

Having earned a reprieve when Chris Tremain spilled a tough chance above his head at long-on, the opener went for another big shot a few balls later but only managed to sky a ball to cover, with Handscomb taking a well-judged catch.

As has been the case throughout the match, one wicket quickly brought another; Holland grabbed his fourth of the innings a short time later when Alex Carey shelled a catch to Dan Christian at short mid-wicket to depart without scoring.

Ross and Joe Mennie defied the Vics for eight overs before Holland struck a huge blow with the final ball before lunch, Ross caught by Christian at silly point for a well-made 71.

WATCH: Ross registers vital runs for Redbacks

The final three wickets added 45 valuable runs to stretch the advantage to 192, the injured Sayers the last man out having bravely batted despite a lower leg injury that has prevented him from bowling for most of the match.

Holland deservedly finished as the pick of the bowlers with 5-76 from 37 overs as the Bushrangers engineered a collapse of 6-54, meaning they needed 193 to win.

The run chase began well for the home side when Daniel Worrall picked up his seventh wicket of the match by trapping Quiney in front for just 2 before Dean and Stoinis steadied.

Both batsmen offered chances on a surface that has become lower as the match has progressed; Joe Mennie spilled a tough chance off Dean at mid-on while Sam Raphael missed a much easier opportunity off Stoinis in the gully, with Elliott Opie the unlucky bowler on both occasions.

Dean also survived two nervous moments when Mark Cosgrove and then Travis Head threw the stumps down with the opener scrambling, but he was ruled to have made his ground on both occasions.

The opener dominated the 55-run partnership with Stoinis, bringing up his half-century from 93 balls as Head threw the ball to part-timer Jake Lehmann in the quest for a breakthrough.

But it was Mennie, the competition's leading wicket-taker, who would finally account for Dean, trapping him in front with nine overs remaining in the day.

It was a brief moment of joy in another frustrating session for the Redbacks, with Weatherald later missing a tough chance at short leg off Stoinis before Handscomb edged one from Worrall between the wicketkeeper Carey and Mark Cosgrove at third slip.

It brought the number of missed opportunities in the innings to four and barring a last day miracle, helped put the Vics on track for another title.