Canberra is on track to host the Sheffield Shield final after an incredible Western Australia batting collapse where they lost 4-8 left NSW in total control of their crucial match at Manuka Oval.
Dumped Test batsman Shaun Marsh holds the key to WA conjuring up a miracle outright victory, resuming on nine from 55 balls alongside wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman (20) with the score at 5-138, a lead of just 34. Marsh was hardly convincing in getting off the mark and avoiding his fourth consecutive duck, taking 12 balls to score his first run.
He failed to trouble the scorers in the first innings after back-to-back failures in the second Test of the series against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
WA coach Justin Langer praised Marsh for showing determination to survive on a tricky pitch for batting and ensure he will be there to help WA get themselves out of the mire. ''He was a bit nervous … but he got into gear really nicely on a really hard wicket to score on,'' Langer said.
''We know if he gets in, there's few better players in Australia, so hopefully he can get in tomorrow. The outfield is slow, I'd always prefer playing on a dodgy deck and a fast outfield than a flat deck and a slow outfield because at least you get value for shots.''
The Blues are likely to host the final if they win given South Australia (212), equal with NSW and WA on 26 points, are struggling against Tasmania (8-507).
Meanwhile, Queensland (5-285) are looming as a chance to jump from fourth place into the decider and are in a strong position against Victoria (210). WA put themselves back in the match with an impressive bowling performance, taking six wickets in the morning session to dismiss NSW for 186. Former Test spinner Ashton Agar took 5-74.