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White and Coleman consign NSW to defeat

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Victoria 327 (White 123, Handscomb 89, Abbott 5-70) beat New South Wales 261 (Henriques 77, Sams 56, Coleman 5-39) by 66 runs

Cameron White and Peter Handscomb set up an ample tally for Victoria at North Sydney Oval before New South Wales slid from a promising platform to their third consecutive defeat in the domestic limited-overs tournament – though under this year’s competition rules all teams are guaranteed a finals berth.

The stand of 190 between White and the captain Handscomb allowed the visitors to shrug off the loss of Seb Gotch from the very first ball of the match, chipping Sean Abbott to mid-on, and pushed Victoria well past 300. White’s century was his third at North Sydney and seventh for Victoria in limited-overs matches, while Handscomb’s innings was a welcome sign of progress after he had made a series of technical tweaks in the winter. Abbott finished with five wickets, albeit at a cost of 70 runs.

Left with 328 for victory, the Blues were unable to find a partnership to match that of White and Handscomb, maintaining a pattern where the NSW top order has been unable to summon truly match-shaping scores. The Blues captain Kurtis Patterson made an attractive 48 but again fell after making a start, before Moises Henriques was also dismissed when he appeared to be in control of the game.

The uncontracted allrounder Daniel Sams made his second half-century of the tournament and appears to be batting too low at No. 7, meaning he was left with too much to do without top-order help. Jackson Coleman, the Victorian left-armer, persisted well and deserved his five wickets, while the legspinner Tom O’Connell was unafraid to toss the ball up on the small North Sydney Oval, being rewarded with a trio of his own victims despite having a pair of very strong lbw shouts turned down and also suffering from a dropped catch.

Limited-overs teams tend to be happy to bowl first in day games at North Sydney, particularly if the pitch has some live grass on top. This was certainly the case when Patterson sent Victoria in, and the early dismissals of Gotch and then Marcus Harris, who failed to ride the bounce of a lifting delivery from Ben Dwarshuis, seemed to vindicate the decision.

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However White had established himself with a handful of solid blows, and proceeded to rotate the strike intelligently alongside Handscomb, who showed evidence of his off-season work to get more of his weight moving forward to meet balls pitched up to the stumps in a more positive, decisive and consistent manner.

Between them, the Victorian tally mounted smoothly with a particular toll taken on Steve O’Keefe and Henriques. Offspinner Chris Green seemed more able to stem the flow, before he too began to leak boundaries. Once White had passed his century and both he and Handscomb fell in the pursuit of quick runs, Glenn Maxwell and the NSW discard Nic Maddinson were able to hammer a handful of boundaries to take the total beyond 326 – the recent par for winning totals at the ground.

Grass on the surface was still catchy enough for Will Sutherland to move the ball off the seam, which he did to coax an early edge from Daniel Hughes that was well held by White in the slips. Jack Edwards batted in Patterson’s slipstream for a time before picking out third man when slashing at Coleman, and the captain made it to the cusp of a half-century before edging behind.

Henriques was soon striking the ball cleanly, and his duel with O’Connell was beguiling. Bullied sixes were traded with false shots and lbw appeals, before Sutherland dropped a chance on the cover boundary when coming forward. It was to be Coleman who finally dismissed Henriques, at a time when he and Sams seemed well on course to reel in the target.

Victoria’s notably deeper batting line-up than NSW was now to come into effect, as the latter’s last five wickets went down for 42 runs in six overs. A cheery Sunday afternoon crowd, having anticipated a tight finish, found themselves making for the exits at least half an hour earlier than expected.

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