CRICKET

Vic in commanding Shield position

Vic in commanding Shield position
Victoria ended the opening day 3-322 in the Sheffield Shield final against SA.

Victoria have enjoyed a dream start to their Sheffield Shield title defence thanks to a double-century partnership from openers Marcus Harris and Travis Dean on day one of the final against South Australia in Alice Springs.

Victoria ended the opening day at Traeger Park in a commanding position at 3-322.

Chasing a third successive title win, Victoria put on 224 for the first wicket with Harris scoring a sparkling 120 and Dean contributing 94.

It was a second century in a Shield final for Harris, and a record opening partnership in a final for Victoria following the 185-run stand between Chris Rogers and Rob Quiney in 2015.

After winning the toss, Victoria's openers soon found their groove as South Australia's bowlers toiled under oppressive heat in the Red Centre.

SA, however, were partly the architects of their own downfall, missing several catches and a couple of run outs.

Harris was dropped twice and Dean once, though two of those chances were extremely difficult.

Remarkably, having gone four hours without a wicket, both Victorian openers were sent back to the pavilion in consecutive overs.

Dean survived a drawn-out referral to the third umpire for a catch at leg slip, only to be bowled the very next ball by Adam Zampa.

Harris then fell five balls later guiding a Chadd Sayers delivery into the hands of Joe Mennie at gully.

It was a painful day for Zampa who created some near-misses, only for his 28 overs to come at a cost of 127 runs, including four sixes.

Aaron Finch added a typically hard-hitting knock of 38 from 52 balls, before he was lbw to Sayers with the first delivery of the new ball.

Sayers, the Shield's leading wicket-taker this season, managed to return impressive figures in the circumstances - 2-50 from 19 overs.

No.3 Rob Quiney (44 not out) and captain Cameron White (7 not out) remain at the wicket.

The favoured Victorians only need to draw the five-day match to retain their title and become the first Bushrangers side to win three consecutive Shields, while the Redbacks are seeking to end a 21-year drought.

AAP