New South Wales 283 (Abbott 66, Nevill 59, Swepson 5-97) and 3 for 71 need 135 more runs to beat Queensland 298 and 190 (Copeland 5-17)
A gripping final day was in prospect at Karen Rolton Oval after a magnificent seam-bowling exhibition by Trent Copeland, who took 5 for 17 in 18 overs, left New South Wales chasing 206 but they lost three wickets in a tense last session as Queensland ensured they had to fight for every run.
The first innings ended with a narrow 15-run advantage to Queensland, but that was soon negated by Copeland’s new-ball spell which read an astonishing 10-9-2-3 when he was finally rested. When he later picked up his fifth wicket – Kurtis Patterson taking a stunning one-handed catch at second slip – he had 5 for 6 in his 14th over.
Copeland’s scalps included Marnus Labuschagne for a duck – trapping him lbw for the second time in the game – and he also removed incumbent Test opener Joe Burns without scoring. Of Australia’s current Test XI playing in the Sheffield Shield, Burns’ returns with the bat have been the least convincing so far. The final round of games could be vital to his prospects of facing India.
When Copeland had Bryce Street caught behind – after the opener had been roughed up by Mitchell Starc – Queensland were 3 for 30 but for the next 33 overs they rebuilt through Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw although it was not always convincing with both batsmen tested by short bowling.
Copeland returned to find Khawaja’s outside edge which was the start of four wickets falling for 23 runs as Queensland looked unlikely to post a target near 200. Nathan Lyon made his first incisions of the game, bowling Jimmy Peirson when he missed a sweep and getting Michael Neser caught a leg slip when he inside-edged a drive.
But Mark Steketee took the long handle to Lyon, hitting him six, four, six in consecutive deliveries, while Jack Wildermuth also played a valuable hand and Mitchell Swepson chipped in before picking out third man.
Wildermuth was handed the new ball ahead of Steketee or Xavier Bartlett and the move worked when Nick Larkin edged to second slip. Steketee claimed the key wicket of Patterson, who got inside edge into the stumps, and when Moises Henriques fell sweeping to Swepson for the second time in the match things were very unsteady for New South Wales at 3 for 48.
Daniel Hughes and Daniel Solway made it to the close but with Swepson’s threat on a wearing surface the game remained too tight to call.
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