Queensland stay top after draw at the MCG
THE Sheffield Shield match between defending champions Victoria and competition leaders Queensland has ended in a tame draw following yet another dour run-fest at the MCG.
Such was the lack of opportunity to press for victory, the two captains, Cameron White and Jimmy Peirson, elected to call a finish to the match more than two hours before stumps.
At the time Queensland were 4-184, boasting a lead of 200 runs.
Veteran Victorian fast bowler Peter Siddle (3-21) opened up the slim possibility of a result early on day four with a dynamic opening spell that left Queensland reeling at 3-26.
But a confident 100 not out from Marnus Labuschagne (pictured) put paid to any hopes of a result.
Labuschagne and first-innings century maker Sam Heazlett (49) put on 99 for the fourth wicket to defy the Bushrangers side, who opened with legspinner Fawad Ahmed in an attempt to force the issue.
However, the result seemed a foregone conclusion after Victoria's lengthy first innings lasted until just before stumps on day three, mirroring the slow batting conditions seen at the MCG during the Ashes Series.
Queensland narrowly held on to top spot on the Shield ladder ahead of Tasmania thanks to bonus points earned in Melbourne.
While Victoria dropped to last they remain only a win away from second with three rounds remaining.
South Australia's push for a third successive Sheffield Shield final seemed dead and buried a few days ago but is back on the cards thanks to a series of unlikely results and little-known seam bowler Nick Winter.
Playing in just his second first-class match, the left-armer took 10wickets to set-up a seven-wicket win for the Redbacks over New South Wales at the SCG on Monday.
Victory allowed South Australia to jump to fourth on a ladder further congested by a series of upsets since the competition resumed last weekend for the second half of the season.
A Redbacks attack missing Chadd Sayers, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa dismissed an experienced NSW batting line-up for 256 and 213, setting up victory in the opening session on day four as the visitors reached 3-193.
But it was Winter who was the star of the show.
The 24-year-old backed up his 5-48 on Friday with 5-61 in the second innings as NSW suffered a match-turning collapse of 7-68.
Just a week after making his Shield debut, Winter has 15 wickets from two matches at a impressive average of 15.73.
He also boasts an excellent economy rate of 2.69 runs per over, showing some of the older hands in the competition how to how use the Dukes ball which has been introduced for the second half of the season.
While South Australia leave the SCG in buoyant mood, it was a second straight defeat for a NSW side that led the competition for the first half of the season.
Shorn of numerous international players including Test fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, the Blues struggled for penetration against some disciplined South Australian batting.
One of the few highlights for the Blues was the debut of legspinner Daniel Fallins who took four wickets, albeit expensively, including 3-51 in the first innings.
South Australia's new-found form will be tested by a strong Queensland side at Adelaide Oval next Saturday, while NSW will host Tasmania at the SCG.