Vics build impetus for Shield final with big WA win
Victoria will have serious momentum behind them when they chase redemption in next week's Sheffield Shield decider after outplaying opponents Western Australia in the concluding regular-season match at the WACA.
Victoria will return to the WACA next Thursday for a five-day match that WA, as ladder-leaders, only need to draw.
Despite stumbles in their run-chase, Victoria collected a hefty seven-wicket win just before lunch on day four as Western Australia slipped to their first home defeat for 18 months.
In the face of some challenging bowling, Victoria needed over an hour and a half to post 3-64 for victory.
The in-form Matt Short hit the winning runs in his unbeaten 23, after the Vics had slipped to 3-29.
Victoria, though, dominated the three previous days for a fifth successive win - a rare feat in the Shield.
Player of the match Scott Boland led the way with eight wickets, despite only arriving back from Australia's Test tour of India the day before the game.
"Our bowling group has just been fantastic and really helped get us into this position," Victoria coach Chris Rogers reflected on their winning streak since the mid-season break.
"I probably didn't expect us to be in a Shield final if I'm being honest.
"The impressive thing is that the team is playing with discipline and that doesn't always happen with a young group.
"It's good to have a taste of the conditions here and we have pretty good plans (for the final), it's just a matter of executing them."
Victoria will be boosted by the return of regular captain Peter Handscomb, and also spinner Todd Murphy after his breakthrough tour of India.
The Vics rarely troubled Western Australia in last year's drawn final, as WA ended a 23-year Shield drought.
"Last year I think we lost the game before the final," interim Victoria captain Will Sutherland said.
"WA definitely had the momentum going into that final, so hopefully it will be a different story this year and we can carry our momentum into the final.
"We are in a good place as a group and hopefully we can keep it going."
WA are set to line up with a more familiar side next week after resting strike bowlers Joel Paris and Matthew Kelly.
"We will take learnings and some good lessons out of this week," Western Australia coach Adam Voges said.
"We will be really well prepared for them next week and we will take in a lot of confidence as well."