Henriques’ 95 holds NSW together as WA lose Kelly to injury


New South Wales 244 for 7 (Henriques 95, Paris 3-45, Rocchiccioli 3-96) trail Western Australia 256 (Whiteman 107, Philippe 52*, Green 3-33, Bird 3-37) by 12 runs

Skipper Moises Henriques capitalised on a shorthanded Western Australia attack after quick Matt Kelly suffered a pectoral muscle injury in his return as New South Wales fought back on day two of their Sheffield Shield clash in Perth.

In reply to WA’s first innings of 256, NSW were in major trouble on a green-tinged WACA surface at 106 for 5 but Henriques led from the front with a determined 95 off 210 balls. NSW trailed by just 12 runs at stumps with three wickets in hand.

Henriques looked set for his first century of the Shield season, but in a late twist he was adjudged caught behind off seamer Charlie Stobo although replays suggested the ball hit his pad.

Kelly only bowled seven overs before he went off the field. Left-arm quick Joel Paris and offspinner Corey Rocchiccioli carried the load and claimed three wickets apiece.

Kelly is unlikely to bowl again in the match leaving WA limited in their bowling options having gone into the match without allrounders Cameron Green and Aaron Hardie, who are playing in the West Indies ODI series.

Tensions escalated late in the day’s play when WA appealed for obstructing the field after Stobo – having gathered the ball back in his follow-through – threw the ball in the direction of the stumps seemingly in an attempt to run out Chris Green, who patted the ball away. The umpires had a short discussion, but Green remained at the crease.

“He [Green] basically just defended himself in terms of getting the bat down,” Henriques said. “I’m not sure what else he is meant to do. They [WA] are well in their rights to ask the question. I think the right decision was made.”

After his superb century on day one, captain Sam Whiteman believed WA were in a position of strength as he predicted batting conditions would only get more difficult as the match progressed.

His prognostication appeared on the money when Paris and Kelly bowled miserly lengths outside the off-stump with the new ball. There had been much excitement over the long-awaited return of Kelly, who had missed the entire domestic season due to a calf injury.

Often overshadowed by Lance Morris and Jhye Richardson, Kelly has been a reliable performer in recent seasons and starred with six wickets in last year’s Shield final against Victoria.

Kelly almost made the perfect start when his first delivery swung wildly off a length and close to the gloves of Ryan Hackney as wicketkeeper Josh Philippe completed a stunning diving take down the leg-side.

But Kelly was left disappointed when his loud shout for caught behind was turned down before Paris took over with the wickets of Hackney and Dan Hughes to leave NSW in disarray at 13 for 2.

Paris was relentless from the Lillee-Marsh stand end and continually hit a challenging length in an almost unplayable opening spell of 2 for 4 from six overs.

There was no respite for NSW with Stobo bowling four consecutive maidens as the first-change bowler. NSW crawled to 29 runs off the first 21 overs with opener Blake Nikitaras anchored to the crease and struggling to rotate the strike.

As he often does, Rocchiccioli entered the attack within the first hour and he immediately challenged left-handed batters Nikitaras and Matthew Gilkes with bounce and turn. It was only a matter of time before Rocchiccioli broke through and he dismissed Gilkes and Nikitaras either side of lunch.

Henriques started nervously and survived a couple of half chances before he settled alongside an attacking Ollie Davies, who hit three gorgeous drives off one over from Rocchiccioli. Davies raced to 21 before succumbing to Paris’ accuracy as he edged to first slip to leave NSW facing a big deficit on the first innings.

But Henriques found support from allrounder Jack Edwards forcing Whiteman to revert to Hilton Cartwright, who played two Tests for Australia in 2017 as an allrounder but rarely bowls these days.

He found zip off the surface and had confident lbw shouts on Henriques and Edwards, who eventually settled and looked untroubled after tea. They combined for a partnership of 83 before Rocchiccioli deceived Edwards with flight as he edged to slip.

There had been a flurry of wickets late on day one, but Henriques held firm until just before the close as this see-saw of a match remains evenly poised.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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