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Western Australia have steadied after three quick wickets opened the door for a Victoria Sheffield Shield victory built on Peter Handscomb’s historic knock.
The Bushrangers captain declared at 4-616 at lunch on day four at Junction Oval, leaving him unbeaten on 281 and his side with a 150-run lead and two sessions to concoct an unlikely victory.
The selfless call had an instant impact with the Warriors falling to 3-19 as they tried to bat out the final two sessions for a draw.
Hilton Cartwright (42) and Josh Philippe (24) ensured no further damage though, with the visitors a more secure 3-98 at tea.
Young spinner Ruwantha Kellapotha will still fancy his chances after finding some bounce and turn to deceive Philippe after offspinner Todd Murphy had triggered panic.
Sam Whiteman was the first to fall when he charged down the wicket and was clean bowled by Murphy.
First-innings centurion Cameron Bancroft became Murphy’s second victim when he was caught at mid-on, before Teague Wyllie hooked a catch to fine leg one ball after hitting Cameron McClure for six.
Earlier Handscomb, who scored a century in the season opener, crushed WA’s spirits before breaking a long-standing record held by the late Dean Jones.
His decision to declare meant he missed out on the chance of becoming the 19th player to post a Shield triple century, the score the equall 22nd highest in Shield history.
It is also the highest ever by a Victorian against WA, bettering the previous record of 243 set by both Jones (1984-85) and Will Pucovski (2018-19).
The 338-run stand between Handscomb and Sam Harper (132no off 238 balls) is Victoria’s highest-ever fifth-wicket partnership, bettering the previous mark of 316 set by Grant Gardiner and Laurie Harper in 1997.
Handscomb – dropped twice on Wednesday – started the day on 174 and brought up his double century by flicking Lance Morris to fine leg and reaching 250 just 35 balls later.
WA paceman Jhye Richardson (0-76 off 30 overs) largely avoided the carnage, but spinner D’Arcy Short (0-102 off 20 overs) copped a pounding.
Handscomb played the last of his 16 Tests in 2019 but has pushed his case for a recall, particularly ahead of a tour of India in February.
Australian Associated Press
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