Veteran seamer Jackson Bird believes Tasmania can turn a 53-run lead into a match-winning advantage after the Tigers withstood some fiery pace bowling from James Pattinson to be 2-64 at stumps on day two of their Sheffield Shield clash with Victoria.
The Vics were all out for 199 at tea on Saturday at the MCG, in reply to the Tigers' first-innings total of 188, and had the visitors in trouble early in their second dig at 2-47.
But on a pitch that has offered bowlers plenty, Mac Wright (30 not out) and Caleb Jewell (3 not out) were able to see off a late spell by a fired-up Pattinson to set up an intriguing third day of the delicately poised contest.
"It was a pretty good day for us," Bird said.
"I think we bowled well all innings and hung in there really well (with the bat).
"We knew it was a difficult wicket to score on and I thought our whole bowling group was good today.
"It was disappointing to lose two wickets late but I think Mac Wright showed a lot of fight there at the end.
"It's going to be about how well the boys can absorb the pressure and get through to the other side.
"I think once we see the ball getting a little bit older it can be a little bit easier to score."
Pattinson (1-15 from nine overs) got the early breakthrough, trapping Jordan Silk (6) in front with the score 1-9, then Will Sutherland had Charlie Wakim (23) caught by Peter Handscomb at second slip.
Earlier, Handscomb anchored the Vics' innings with a gritty 73 before he departed late in the morning session.
Bird (4-43 from 22.5 overs) and Jarrod Freeman (3-39 from 17) did the damage for Tasmania.
Sutherland was the unbeaten batsman for Victoria with his first-class top score of 34.
The Tigers, who lost captain Tim Paine to illness before the start of the match, suffered more injury drama early on Saturday when Peter Siddle copped a blow to his left thumb.
The quick, who broke the same thumb playing for the Adelaide Strikers in the recent BBL season, left the ground for treatment but was able to return to the attack.
Australian Associated Press