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Hardie and Cartwright lead WA to miraculous victory

Hilton Cartwright and young gun all-rounder Aaron Hardie have defied a rampant Queensland bowling attack on a green WACA pitch, recording a sensational three wicket comeback victory on Wednesday.

In a match dominated by the bowlers, Cartwright (69) and Hardie (70*) steadied WA’s chase of 194 with a 71 run partnership for the seventh wicket after slumping to 6/82.

After 20 wickets fell on an action packed second day, WA resumed at 1/6 needing 188 more for victory. Captain Sam Whiteman bagged a pair when he fell to Mark Steketee without scoring, Joe Burns with a low catch at third slip.

Nightwatchman Corey Roccichioli fell in the next over in bizarre fashion, felled by a short ball from Michael Neser and the force of the blow forcing him to make contact with his stumps, out hit wicket for six.

At 3/9 the home side was in danger of repeating its first innnings collapse, Hilton Cartwright finding the boundary twice before losing partner Teague Wyllie to a trademark Neser outswinger, Usman Khawaja claiming a comfortable catch at third slip.

Cartwright and youngster Sam Fanning fought hard to get through to lunch without further loss, batting for more than an hour without losing a wicket as batting got easier against the older ball. Fanning struck four boundaries in a partnership of 51 before falling shortly after the interval, inside edging Xavier Bartlett on to his stumps having made 27.

Cartwright loomed as the key as he thwarted the threat of Neser in particular, but lost Josh Philippe when he was deceived by a Neser slower ball, chipping to Marnus Labuschagne at mid-off having made six.

At 6/82 Queensland were closing in on victory, Neser with four wickets to continue his outstanding game. Aaron Hardie dug in with Cartwright when it was most needed, defying the Bulls bowlers as they took the pair took the score past 100.

Hardie was afforded a life when he was dropped by Bulls keeper Jimmy Pierson on 13, a missed chance that would come back to cost the visitors. Cartwright reached 50 as the target required crept closer, getting to Tea with 50 runs needed for victory.

Cartwright reached 69 before Neser claimed a stunning caught and bowled, a firm straight drive plucked by Neser’s right hand in his follow through. Hardie eased any nerves as he took control of the chase with a flurry of boundaries that put Queensland on the back foot, breaking the back of the visitors bowling effort in the process.

Hardie reached fifty as Joel Paris kept his composure at the other end, the Bulls out of answers and options as leg spinner Mitch Swepson failed to have an impact post Tea. Hardie sealed the win with a crunching straight drive off Steketee, sealing a famous win for Western Australia after being bowled out for just 115 in their first innings.

The young all-rounder was player of the match for his 114 runs and 3 wickets, his first innings 44 just as important to get his side to three figures to reduce the deficit between the sides on first innings.

Neser claimed 5/36 from 19 overs in a superb bowling effort for Queensland, not quite enough to get his side over the line.

The win moves Western Australia to the top of the Shield table, the teams to meet in a Marsh Cup clash on Saturday before the reigning Shield champions face South Australia in another four day fixture at the WACA starting Friday week.

IMAGE: Getty Images

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