Handscomb, Harris, Maddinson propel Victorial to final

Some rollicking batting from Peter Handscomb and Marcus Harris and an allround effort from Nic Maddinson completely outplayed defending champions Western Australia and sent Victoria into the JLT Cup final in the semi-final in Melbourne.

Harris pounded 73 from just 49 balls at the top of the order while captain Handscomb made a composed 80 from 73 balls to help the hosts set up an imposing total of 332 at the Junction Oval.

WA looked to have the chase under control but Josh Inglis (64) and D’Arcy Short (44) failed to capitalise on excellent starts and the Warriors middle order collapsed for the first time in the tournament.

Victoria looked in early trouble after the winning the toss and electing to bat as Nathan Coulter-Nile removed both Cameron White and Travis Dean with late swing, pace and extra bounce to reduce the home side to 2 for 10.

Harris then cut loose taking 20 from Coulter-Nile’s third over, with five boundaries. He enjoyed some good fortune when he was missed at slip and continued to push hard until he fell trying to hit Usman Qadir out of the ground in the 15th over.

Handscomb batted beautifully and found a good ally in Maddinson, who also passed 50. But both fell with plenty of time remaining in the innings. The tail wagged with Matthew Short, Chris Tremain, Fawad Ahmed and Andrew Fekete providing some excellent late hitting to push the total beyond 300. Coulter-Nile was the pick of the bowlers finishing with 3 for 50.

WA were flying early in the chase with Josh Philippe climbing into the spin of Glenn Maxwell and Short, who were used upfront to try and quell his influence. He made 28 from 15 balls before Fekete trapped him in front.

Inglis and D’Arcy Short put together an 81-run stand as WA cruised to 1 for 121 in the 18th over. But Short top-edged a Jackson Coleman slower ball. Ashton Turner ran himself out six overs later and Inglis sliced a catch to backward point to leave WA in a hole.

Marcus Stoinis and Hilton Cartwright could not salvage the innings. Victoria were able to squeeze the lower order as the pitch slowed up. Maddinson claimed career-best figures of 4 for 28 with his part-time left-arm orthodox.

The Warriors would have made the final automatically in any other year having finished two games clear on top of the table, but head home empty-handed after the competition was restructured this year to allow all six sides to play finals.

This is Victoria’s third win in seven matches, having finished fourth on the table and then progressing past New South Wales in the qualifying final via a wash-out. They will host Wednesday’s final at the Junction Oval against Tasmania.