Bancroft pushes WA to handy lead in crucial Shield game

Oliver Caffrey |

Cameron Bancroft on his way to an unbeaten 42 at stumps on day two against Victoria in the Shield.
Cameron Bancroft on his way to an unbeaten 42 at stumps on day two against Victoria in the Shield.

Former Test opener Cameron Bancroft is hanging tough on a difficult pitch, helping push Western Australia to a lead of 219 in their crucial Sheffield Shield clash with Victoria.

Bancroft, who was overlooked for an Australia recall after David Warner’s Test retirement in January, remains unbeaten on 42 from 151 balls at stumps on day two at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.

WA are 6-119 in their second innings after 15 wickets tumbled on Tuesday – following the 11 that fell on day one.

Bancroft and Australia’s white-ball wicketkeeper Josh Inglis (45) were the only WA players to reach double figures as quick Fergus O’Neill (3-30) and spinner Todd Murphy (2-12) caused havoc in 53 overs.

After collapsing to 4-31, Bancroft and Inglis put on a vital 75-run stand that could prove to be match-winning.

WA took a first-innings lead of 100 after skittling the Vics for 144 in just 43 overs.

Starting the day at 1-6, Victoria were rocked by a lethal spell from quick Cameron Gannon (5-42) in his first five-wicket haul since moving west from Queensland.

Australia white-ball player Matt Short top-scored with an important 53, but had little support.

Mitch Perry, who came in as nightwatchman when Nic Maddinson fell late on Monday, finished with an impressive 37.

Joel Paris (2-16) also proved to be a handful for WA, while Liam Haskett took 3-36 for the second-best figures of his first-class career.

“It’s been seaming the whole game so I don’t see that dying down any time soon,” Short said.

“If we can get Bancroft out (on Wednesday) morning, hopefully we can roll through the WA tailenders.”

Dual reigning champions, WA need to avoid losing to the Vics to be assured of reaching a third successive decider.

Sitting second on the table, the visitors could still make the final with a draw – but that outcome looks unlikely unless the weather intervenes.

Victoria – one place lower on the ladder – need to win to play in another decider after losing the last two finals against WA.

Tasmania, who last won a Shield title in 2012-13, entered the round on top of the ladder and in the box seat to host the final.

But the Tigers are locked in a tricky run chase against South Australia in Hobart, possibly costing themselves a decider at Blundstone Arena if WA win.

“You try and be across all the possible scenarios but that can just be a distraction,” Gannon said.

“It’s all in front of us; we need to do our job to be a chance for that.

“We don’t place our faith in other teams, we like to determine our own fate.”