CRICKET SHIELD VIC NSW
A fit-and-firing Peter Siddle and Test paceman James Pattinson hold the keys to Victoria's hopes of regaining the upper hand in their Sheffield Shield clash with New South Wales at the MCG.
The encounter between the bottom-of-the-table Vics and the competition leaders is evenly poised after the Blues fought back from early trouble to be 6-223 at stumps on day one.
Having been sent in by Victorian skipper Peter Handscomb on Friday, the visitors slumped to 5-114, but Peter Nevill (40no) and Sean Abbott (45no) combined to frustrate the home side in the final session.
On a recast MCG wicket that showed more signs of life than it has in recent times, Siddle and Pattinson were the pick of the bowlers.
Siddle finished with figures of 2-40 from 21 overs and Pattinson 2-44 from 22 - both bowled six maidens - but several chances went begging late in the day.
"It was frustrating but we could have thrown the eggs out of the basket and bowled a pile of trash and got smacked around," Siddle said, reflecting on the session to stumps.
"On any other day we could have cleaned them up and we could've been batting for 15 overs, but I think all-in-all it was a good day of cricket.
"Saturday morning is going to be the crucial session for both teams, I think.
"Hopefully we can get the breakthrough and see how we go and they're probably going to look to dig in for as long as they can.
"It will have to be a good start for us."
NSW got off to a disastrous start at 1-1 when Siddle had Daniel Hughes caught behind in the fourth over and were 2-63 at lunch after Daniel Solway departed.
The Vics showed impressive hustle to beat the clock and squeeze in one more Pattinson over before the break and it paid off, with Solway edging to Handscomb at second slip when on 20.
Moises Henriques joined opener Nick Larkin when play resumed but was out for a duck when Pattinson struck again, Nic Maddinson taking a nice catch at mid-wicket.
Top scorer Larkin made 50 from 116 balls, with three fours, before Jon Holland had him caught behind, with Matthew Gilkes (28 runs off 49 balls) the last wicket to fall before tea.
Nick Bertus helped steady the ship, making 27 before he was removed by Siddle, with Nevill and Abbott combining for an unbeaten partnership of 74 runs to pull their side back into the contest.