Pucovski ends century drought in Sheffield Shield comeback


New South Wales 252 and 40 for 3 trail Victoria 454 for 6 dec (Pucovski 131, Handscomb 114, Maddinson 108, Lyon 5-153) by 162 runs

Will Pucovski‘s sent a timely reminder with a drought-breaking century in his Sheffield Shield return as Victoria climbed all over NSW before rain intervened at the SCG.

Back in the fray after an 11th concussion in a 2nd XI game last month, Pucovski showed patience and poise on Sunday on his way to his first Shield century in more than three years.

He ground out 131 off 302 balls, going from 58 to triple figures without a boundary before getting creative with ramp shots and late cuts as the Bushrangers put the foot down.

He staved of the best efforts of Nathan Lyon before eventually holing out to the Test offspinner, having earlier shared a 200-run stand with Peter Handscomb.

Aided also by Nic Maddinson’s blazing 108 a day earlier, Victoria declared at 454 for 6 for a first innings lead of 202. NSW were 40 for 3, still 162 shy of making Victoria bat again, before rain brought stumps about an hour early on day three.

It was Pucovski’s seventh first class century but first Shield hundred since November 2020 – before his solitary Test in January 2021 – for the man long touted as a future red-ball Australian star.

He took time away from the game in 2022 for mental health reasons but has played five Shield matches for the second-placed Victoria this season.

Following opener David Warner’s recent Test retirement, the century was a timely reminder of Pucovski’s class in just his 35th first-class match since debuting in 2017.

“It’s always nice to get amongst the runs,” he said.  “A lot of hard work goes into what you do on the field and it was good to bounce back after the little hiccup a couple of weeks ago with the concussion.

“They had the greatest spinner of all time [Lyon] in their attack and he bowled a lot of overs. The plan was to nullify him as best I could and trust my defence.

“He’s just incredibly high quality; doesn’t give you much to hit and toys around with you a bit. You want to challenge yourself against the best and he’s the best. So it’s good to be able to succeed against someone like him.”

Australian Under-19 star Sam Konstas and veteran Moises Henriques survived until the rain arrived on Sunday.

Scott Boland had Blake Nikitaras trapped in front for six then had Daniel Hughes caught behind for a golden duck, while Will Sutherland added a sixth wicket for the match in the form of Matthew Gilkes.

“It was about putting them under pressure as much as we could,” Pucovski said of Victoria’s declaration. “It paid off tonight – 3 for 40 – but we would have liked to stay out there for that last hour or so.”

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