Firebirds build lead moving into final day

Losing three wickets in the last three overs before lunch saw the Volts bowled out in the first session, for a first-innings lead for exactly one run. It was a rapid denouement, the Firebirds mopping up the tail for 285 after the Volts had been chugging away nicely at 267 for five.

The loss of Christi Viljoen on 44, after an hour and a half at the crease, turned the tide and was Hamish Bennett’s 250th first-class dismissal to boot. Bennett would go on to pick up a fourth wicket in the innings, and the last main obstacle, in Nathan Smith (46) just four overs later.

Bennett had support from across the attack, with the match very much even Stevens at lunch on the third day.

By tea, the cheap loss of Devon Conway shortly before the second interval took the gloss off the session somewhat for the Firebirds, their second dig paused at 84 for two. Opener Rachin Ravindra was nearing a half century, but Ravindra was out early in the third session for 49, Bacon picking up his eighth wicket of the match at 93 for three.

Michael Bracewell’s departure on 23 brought Jimmy Neesham to the middle at 130 for four, a lead of 129. By stumps, that lead had grown to 198 with Tom Blundell to resume the last day on 57*. He will be beginning a new partnership, however, with Neesham and Andrew Fletcher both having been removed at low cost.

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