Redbacks have hope after fightback
A remarkable five wickets in 15 balls has given South Australia an unlikely chance of snapping its 14-game Sheffield Shield winless streak.
Seemingly gone when Queensland, chasing 150 to win, strolled to 0/47 in the final session of day three at the Gabba on Sunday, the Redbacks rose spectacularly from the canvas to snare 5/7 in less than three overs.
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Nick Winter (three wickets) and impressive debutant Wes Agar (two) wreaked havoc with the ball against the strong Bulls batting line-up, featuring four top order Test players.
Left-arm seamer Winter got the ball rolling for SA by dismissing Joe Burns (22) and Usman Khawaja (0) in consecutive deliveries while paceman Agar, who took 4/30 in the first innings, sent Matthew Renshaw (24) and Charlie Hemphrey (0) back to the pavilion.
When Winter claimed debutant and first innings half-century maker Bryce Street for a duck, Queensland had slumped to 5/54.
By stumps they had steadied to move to 5/102 with Ashes star Marnus Labuschagne unbeaten on 33 and wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson on 22, leaving the Bulls needing 48 runs to win with five wickets in hand.
The stage is set for a thrilling first session on Monday.
"We're right back in the game,'' Winter said.
"We've given ourselves a chance - that little spell of five wickets was quite surreal - and just have to get one early wicket on the fourth morning and we're into their bowlers.
"Marnus and Jimmy are class players and batted well late in the day but if we can crack one of them it will be a really interesting ball game.''
Earlier, Redbacks skipper Travis Head's first Test hopes were left in some jeopardy after a double failure with the bat.
Head followed his first innings duck with just 12 as Australia contemplates its squad for the opening Test against Pakistan at the same venue next month.
Test vice-captain Head was shockingly dropped from the final Ashes Test in England last month for "tactical'' reasons, despite boasting a healthy average of 42 in 12 matches.
The decision underlined his lack of security within the first XI and he failed to put his selection beyond doubt in the first two Shield games this campaign, making 51 in a high-scoring game against Victoria last week and missing out against the Bulls.
A 25-ball duck by Travis Head in the #SheffieldShield match v Queensland not helping his quest for a return to the Test side 🏏— Glenn Mitchell (@MitchellGlenn) October 18, 2019
The fact Head played a loose shot - flashing at a wide ball from Cameron Gannon and only succeeding in edging to gully - would not have pleased the Australian selectors.
The Redbacks, meanwhile, need to revisit their decision to bat free-scoring Jake Lehmann at No. 3 after he yesterday made a second-ball duck to complete a pair.
In seven innings batting at three, he has made just 52 runs at an average of 7.42.
This compares to averages of 46 at No. 4 and 35 at No. 5.
After cleaning up the Queensland tail on the third morning of the match to trail by 43 runs on the first innings - Agar starred with 4/30 from 19.4 overs and Winter captured 4/81 - SA's batsmen failed for the second time in the match.
The Redbacks slumped to 9/131.
But a spirited 61-run partnership for the last wicket between Chadd Sayers (42) and Agar (20 not out) gave the bowlers something to defend.