Derbyshire v Australia A is poised for an intriguing finale after Night Watchman Tony Palladino stunned the tourists with a supreme hundred.
The Aussies are 234 runs ahead overnight with four second innings wickets intact after Derbyshire declared their first innings 93 runs behind in an attempt to force a positive outcome.
Starting the day unbeaten on four and with Derbyshire 48-1 in reply to 362-4 declared, Palladino defied the tradition of a streaky night watchman, instead playing with poise, flair, skill, elegance and controlled aggression as he passed 50 in 80 balls with six fours.
Wayne Madsen (34) fell to the off-spin of Nathan Lyon at 97-2 but, now partnered by Usman Khawaja, Derbyshire’s opening bowler continued to glide serenely towards the maiden thee figure score of his first-class career.
The ton was reached before lunch - in 113 balls with 16 fours – and, although Jackson Bird removed the centurion’s middle-stump shortly after the interval, it did nothing to mask the sensational achievement of a man who has spent much of his Derbyshire career batting at number 11.
Khawaja passed 50 against his fellow countrymen - in 82 balls with seven fours - and Wes Durston scored 31 not out as the declaration at 269-3 prompted an early tea.
The home side began their second innings bowling with purpose and Mark Footitt quickly removed the opening duo of Michael Klinger and Tim Paine for ten and nine respectively; and Australia A were 58-3 when Mark Turner accounted for Peter Forrest who scored eight.
However, on a flat deck, there remained an air of inevitability about the tourists’ recovery as Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson added 72 for the fourth wicket.
But it was the Derbyshire spinners who had the final word as Johnson (21) was bowled by David Wainwright and Smith, who scored 78 off 107 balls, became Dan Redfern’s first dismissal of the 2012 season caught by the juggling Madsen at midwicket.
Wainwright added the wicket of George Bailey before the close, caught at slip by Khawaja for 2, and the Aussies were 141-6 at stumps.
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