Marnus Labuschagne was again the immovable object while returning Mitchell Starc showed glimpses of his irresistible force as first-day honours were shared between NSW and Queensland in the Sheffield Shield.
The MCG will host the 2012-2013 Ryobi One Day Cup final where two of the most consistent teams of Australian domestic cricket these past few years, Victoria Bushrangers and Queensland Bulls, will do battle on Wednesday, 27th February to see who will be crowned champions.
Both teams will have near full-strength sides, but Queensland has been dealt a bitter blow with pace bowler Matthew Gale pulling up short in the Sheffield Shield clash last week.
Signs point towards the Bushrangers, despite losing to the Bulls just a week ago. Here’s why:
The opener has had a blistering domestic campaign, smacking bowlers to all parts of the ground, including the Bulls’ earlier in the season at the Gabba.
He has power in his game, which has seen him pile on the runs this season. And on an MCG pitch that is sure to shape up as something of a batsman’s paradise, I can see a big score in his sights.
Ahmed showed extreme promise in the last home and away game of the Ryobi Cup, again at the MCG. His clever flight and spin was the trigger for some clever dismissals of danger men Peter Forrest and Luke Pomersbach.
With Victoria lacking another spinner who is not injured, Ahmed has made his mark.
Yes, he’s had something of a lean season with the bat. But knowing Quiney, when it is time to step up, he usually does.
If Quiney can break out of the shell that has stopped him from getting the big runs this season, a Quiney/Finch opening partnership could be devastating.
However, the Bulls are no slouches. Ryan Harris, on his comeback from an injury-riddled campaign, found a consistent line and length to trouble both Quiney and Chris Rogers in their previous one day clash with Victoria.
Luke Pomersbach proved that he can still hit the ball hard; and Nathan Reardon proved a large obstacle in the Queensland batting line-up which stopped Victoria last time at the MCG.
The match may just come down to the batting. MCG pitches this summer have been inviting for the batsmen. Victoria simply did not grasp the opportunity offered to them last week, and their score felt 20 or so runs short of a target that Queensland would not have reached.
Whoever bats first should be looking at a score of approximately 270.
There is also Bushrangers batsman Michael Hill, who scored an impressive 88 last weekend. He backed it up with a century in the subsequent Sheffield Shield clash.
My money is on the Bushrangers. The team form has been very good this season. And with the game being a final at the MCG, a loyal fan-base should be enough to get them over the line.