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Western Australia 466 (Bancroft 100, Short 87, Whiteman 82) and 5 for 185 (Cartwright 76*, Murphy 3-42) drew with Victoria 4 for 616 dec (Handscomb 281*, Harper 132, Harris 111)
The Victoria captain declared at 4 for 616 at lunch on day four at Junction Oval, leaving him unbeaten on 281 and his side with a 150-run lead and two sessions to concoct an unlikely victory.
His call had an instant impact with WA falling to 3 for 19 in 50 dramatic deliveries as the visitors tried to bat out the final two sessions for a draw.
Cartwright and Josh Philippe took them to tea without further loss to allay some fears, before two more wickets to begin the final session again breathed life into the contest.
But D'Arcy Short joined Cartwright after Todd Murphy's third wicket came courtesy of a dubious lbw call on Aaron Hardie to push the visitors past Victoria's first-innings total and prompt an early finish.
Murphy took six wickets for the match and found something in an otherwise lifeless pitch, while Cameron McClure had success with the short ball on the final day.
Handscomb, who scored a century in the season opener, crushed WA's spirits before breaking a long-standing record held by the late Dean Jones. It was the highest score by a Victorian against WA, bettering the previous record of 243 held by Jones (1984-85) and Will Pucovski (2018-19).
Handscomb - dropped twice on Wednesday - started the day on 174 and brought up his double century by flicking Lance Morris to fine leg. He reached 250 just 35 balls later.
It followed a century in the season opener from the man who scored the most Shield runs in 2021, but played the last of his 16 Tests in 2019.
It presents a compelling argument for a recall during the home Test summer, while a tour of India early next year also looms as a target - not that Handscomb is thinking about it.
"I'm feeling good, but that's always one of the things you've got to be careful of with Mother Cricket," he said. "As soon as you do (feel good), things go the other way. So I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully continue to score as many runs as possible this season."
WA had the ball reversing for a bulk of the innings, Cartwright applauding the record stand between Handscomb and wicketkeeper Harper
"That's right up there; he negated everything we threw at him, made us think outside the box," he said. "It was a masterclass how they batted in those conditions. [We're] happy not to lose the game...they got on a run and thankfully we were able to stop that."
Western Australia survive Murphy scare after Handscomb declines chance of 300
Handscomb declared with him unbeaten on 281 after a record stand of 338 alongside Sam Harper
Handscomb rides his luck to pile up big century as bat continues to dominate
Marcus Harris also made a century while WA lost an injured Joel Paris from their attack
Harris leads solid reply after Short takes Western Australia to big total
Victoria's openers added 104 on a surface that is proving tough work for bowlers