A Marcus Stoinis-inspired WA survived a brief scare in the field to open their Marsh Cup campaign with a 125-run bonus-point win over Victoria at the WACA Ground.
Stoinis destroyed his former state’s bowling attack on his way to a blistering 58-ball 101 not out, bringing up his ton with a final-ball six to guide the home side to a mammoth total of 8-386.
WA smashed 96 from the last five overs of their innings, with fellow all-rounder Ashton Agar (27 from 20 and 3-54) playing second fiddle in the century stand with Stoinis before his bowling heroics, helping roll the Vics for 261 with more than 10 overs to spare.
Nic Maddinson (87 from 80) Glenn Maxwell (51 from 35) led Victoria’s counter-attack with a 94-run stand in a little more than 10 overs.
The enigmatic Maxwell instantly made WA pay for Nathan Coulter-Nile’s dropped catch at long on when he was on eight, following it up with a hat-trick of sixes off Jhye Richardson.
Richardson (1-64 off six overs) had a tough return from a shoulder injury, going for nearly 13 runs an over thanks to Australian limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch’s early onslaught and the Maxwell-Maddinson stand.
He at least sent the dangerous Finch packing and took three tough catches but was visibly frustrated by Maxwell, responding with several short balls followed up by a bit of lip.
The double bowling change of Andrew Tye (2-28 off 7.2) and Agar slowed the Vics’ momentum, with the latter claiming partnership-breaking scalp, fittingly caught by Coulter-Nile in the same fielding position as his blunder.
Maddinson kicked on but was running out of partners – and time – with the required run rate steadily climbing before he fell to a sharp Cam Bancroft catch at point off Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-40 off seven).
Stoinis was a no-brainer for player-of-the-match honours, blasting seven maximums and as many fours before grabbing the wicket of young batting prodigy Will Pucovski for 34.
He wasn’t the only player to bring up the triple figures, with young Victorian quick Will Sutherland, who bowled a 10-ball over in the 50th, going for 102 from his 10.
Dumped Test opener Cam Bancroft, in his first domestic 50-over match for WA since the infamous Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, recovered from a slow start to score a 76-ball 78.
Batting at number four, Bancroft was one of three half-centurions for the innings against the defending champions to go with Stoinis’ ton.
Dashing young opener Josh Philippe, one of just two WA players without international experience, set the tone early with a blistering 61 from just 43 balls, including 10 boundaries.
After losing 3-27 within seven overs, Bancroft steadied the ship with a couple of vital middle-order stands with stand-in skipper Ashton Turner (96 for the fourth wicket) and Marcus Stoinis (54 for the fifth).
Turner hit a calculated 52 from 49 balls but it was all about ‘The Stoin’, who went on a six-hitting frenzy and combined with left-hander Ashton Agar (27 off 20) for a 105-run sixth-wicket stand in less than eight overs.
Experienced paceman Scott Boland (1-73 from 10) was the pick of the Vics bowlers, but even he wasn’t spared from Stoinis’ wrath.
Boland conceded 28 alone in the 48th over, including four maximums off his former teammate’s bat.
Philippe made his intentions clear from the get-go, dispatching off-spinner Maxwell to boundary first ball of the innings.
He welcomed Sutherland to the crease in the same fashion at the other end, with the surprise opening bowling combination leaking 37 runs in four overs before getting taken off.
The introduction of Boland helped stem the flow of early runs, with D’Arcy Short looking particularly scratchy.
The first wicket of the match came from an unlikely source in part-time offie Matt Short, who bowled his namesake for an unconvincing 22 from 31.
Running between wickets left a lot to be desired with both Shaun Marsh and Bancroft surviving close run-out chances in the same over, but Marsh wasn’t so lucky the next over when Boland fired in a throw from fine leg before Sam Harper whipped off the bails just in time.
WA’s next match of the tournament is another home game against Tasmania on Wednesday, with Victoria taking on the Tigers at the WACA on Monday.