Sheffield Shield 2015-16
Holland's late strikes leave SA reeling
Thanks to a superb spell from Jon Holland, Victoria have gained the ascendancy in a see-sawing Shield final in Glenelg
Martin Smith at Gliderol Stadium, Glenelg
28 March 2016, 06:30 PM AEST
An inspired spell from spinner Jon Holland has moved Victoria into a strong position after three days of the Sheffield Shield final against South Australia.
On another see-sawing day, Holland's triple strike in the final session may have shifted the momentum irreversibly in Victoria's favour as the Redbacks finished the day on 4-137, a lead of 78 with two days to go.
Not out batsmen Jake Weatherald (72) and Alex Ross (30) will resume on the fourth morning but they face a huge task to help set Victoria a target of substance and deny them a second consecutive Shield title.
"Anything can happen on day five," said Weatherald, who added the Redbacks were looking to set a victory target of more than 250.
"There's still plenty of runs in (the pitch). I think if we bat properly we should be able to put on a good total.
"The pitch is deteriorating quite quickly so the longer we bat and the more time we take out of the game, the harder it'll be for them to bat."
The action-packed day also had its share of controversy, with the Bushrangers penalised five runs after match officials determined the condition of the ball had been deliberately altered early in SA's innings.
The Vics responded to the penalty by triggering a collapse of 4-28 in the final session, with Holland the destroyer.
Earlier, the Bushrangers earned a 59-run advantage on the first innings after Peter Handscomb (112) and Cameron White (78) built on Travis Dean's second-day century to help post a total of 399.
The deficit had been reduced to just 11 before the Redbacks lost their first wicket, Mark Cosgrove dismissed 20 minutes after tea when adjudged to have gloved a Holland delivery to Rob Quiney at short leg, a decision that didn't best please the batsman.
Some superb work from wicketkeeper Matthew Wade secured the second wicket, the skipper moving quickly from behind the stumps to gather the ball at point before turning and throwing at the striker's end, with Quiney whipping off the bails to find Sam Raphael short of his ground after a mix-up with Weatherald.
Just 13 runs later, Holland had captain Travis Head edging behind - another decision that didn't please the dismissed batsman - before Jake Lehmann handed Quiney another catch at short leg the very next ball to stun the home crowd of 2,684 and reduce the home side to 4-76.
With SA's two best batsmen of the season gone in just two deliveries, the impressive Weatherald - who struck 10 boundaries in his second half-century of the match - added 61 with Ross late in the day and they will need to add plenty more tomorrow to have any chance of salvaging a result.
"It can be quite a hard pitch to start on and it's almost one where you never really feel in," Handscomb said.
"It's only the end of day three and with two days left in the game, we're not going to count our chickens yet.
"We've got to come out tomorrow morning, hopefully take a few quick wickets and hopefully chase a small total. But if it doesn't go that way, we'll knuckle down and do what we do best."
Heavy cloud cover had greeted both sides to start the day and with the second new ball just four overs old, South Australia's seamers had every chance to drag their side back into the match with the Vics well-placed at 4-269 in reply to SA's first innings of 340.
But with Test squad member Chadd Sayers off the ground due to a lower leg injury, the home side were shorn of a bowler whose nagging line and length would have been tailor-made to exploit the conditions.
The absence of Sayers meant Joe Mennie opened up alongside Daniel Worrall and the competition's leading wicket-taker struck in his first over, trapping nightwatchman Scott Boland in front to earn the Redbacks their first successful LBW appeal of the match having been repeatedly turned down on Sunday.
Mennie, Worrall and rookie quick Elliot Opie bowled admirably throughout the morning, but a second breakthrough eluded them in a frustrating first hour.
The trio found the edge and beat the bat on countless occasions, but Handscomb and White survived to lift Victoria's score beyond the 300 mark.
Handscomb rode his luck having resumed on 79, playing and missing on more than one occasion and twice edging Worrall between third slip and gully to the third man boundary.
But there was no doubt about the shot that took the 24-year-old to three figures, a delightful cover drive that brought up his 18th boundary, his third century of the season and the seventh of a career that looks certain to reach greater heights.
Just as the match was drifting out of South Australia's reach, the momentum that has fluctuated from the very first morning did another U-turn.
Handscomb played inside a delivery from Opie to lose his off stump when on 112 before two wickets in two balls to Worrall - Dan Christian chopped on for 12 and Chris Tremain LBW for 0 - left the burly quick on a hat-trick and the Redbacks buoyant.
A third consecutive wicket eluded Worrall - Holland wafted at one outside off stump from his first ball - but the late surge earned the Melbourne-born quick his five-wicket haul and the Redbacks the momentum as lunch was called with Victoria 8-356, a lead of just 16.
But White, who had superbly dead-batted the Vics into the final in Alice Springs last week and had adopted the same approach for most of the morning, went on the attack after the interval as he farmed the strike to protect Holland, who regularly wafted his bat unsuccessfully at SA's three-man attack.
White brought up his half-century with a slap over mid-wicket, his eighth boundary, and he would add another three more as well as two sixes before his work was done.
The former skipper dominated a 54-run union with Holland, who contributed just five runs but soaked up 26 crucial deliveries, until Mennie had the tail-ender caught at third slip to become just the third SA bowler after Shaun Tait (65 wickets in 2004-05) and Joel Garner (55 wickets in 82-83) to register 50 dismissals in a season.
White then handed Worrall (6-96) another when he played forcefully across the line and was bowled, ending a run of 363 balls without dismissal and bringing the innings to a close.
It was a crucial knock from the former skipper, but it was Holland's spell after tea that put the Vics in command.