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Lost ball prompts bizarre early tea break

HOBART, Australia, March 2 (AFP) - Opener Jason Arnberger hit an unbeaten 161, caused a bizarre early tea break and led Victoria to a powerful first day position in their Sheffield Shield cricket match against Tasmania here Friday.>

At stumps Victoria were 290 for three, but given their need to take outright points to push for the Shield final and the fine opening platform they were given, they will be disappointed that they never fully dominated a rarely threatening Tasmanian attack.>

Arnberger and Matthew Elliott built a big opening partnership and it took nearly three hours to separate them, Elliott finally falling lbw to Shane Jurgensen for 54 after a stand of 123.>

Arnberger continued and nearing tea he unleashed a ferocious hook off Andrew Downton. The ball sailed over the fence and crunched halfway through an elevated plywood sign advertising Tasmania's wilderness, where it remained stuck a good three metres beyond reach.>

The umpires decreed an early tea because of a "lost" ball -- though half of it was clearly in sight and was easily retrieved with the help of a ladder.>

In Sydney, in-form Michael Bevan and his younger cohorts Greg Mail and Mark Higgs put New South Wales in a strong position against competition leaders Queensland.>

Bevan (111), Mail (71) and Higgs (62no) helped NSW reach 287 for four by stumps.>

Australian limited over batting linchpin Bevan continued his tremendous late season form.>

Bevan, who scored 119 and nine not out in the Blues' last Shield game against Tasmania at the SCG, had also produced scores of 75 and 135 not out in one-day games since that match.>