Victoria and Queensland have experienced contrasting starts to the tournament, but will both have high hopes of claiming a win when they meet at Blacktown International Sportspark. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 1:45pm (AEDT).
Having finished second on the table last year, as well as winning the previous two Cups, Queensland would have been very optimistic about their prospects for this year’s competition.
But in their opening fixture Tasmania dismantled Queensland for 196. Batting at North Sydney Oval, traditionally a batsman’s paradise, Queensland’s top order folded to 6 for 58. Their four highest scorers batted at seven or lower.
Victoria will feel well equipped to expose Queensland’s top order once more, with James Pattinson, John Hastings and Scott Boland forming one of the tournament’s best pace attacks. Pattinson in particular was impressive against the Cricket Australia XI in the Bushrangers’ first game, taking 4 for 18 from his 10 overs.
Victoria ensured it was the Cricket Australia’s second drubbing in three days as they cleaned up their opposition for just 79. When New South Wales played the Cricket Australia XI they broke the record for the largest margin of victory by runs in an Australian one-day match and Victoria, not to be out done, chased done the minuscule total with a record 233 deliveries to spare.
While there is only so much that can be read into a run chase of 79, Aaron Finch’s unbeaten 30 ball 45 puts the destructive opener in good stead for a strong tournament. His wicket will certainly be a valued scalp for the Queensland bowlers, who failed to contain Tasmania’s similarly destructive opener Ben Dunk, whose hundred on Monday allowed his side to chase down Queensland’s modest total in just 36 overs.
With several young players in their squad, partly due to the absence of Chris Lynn and Usman Khawaja, Queensland need their experienced players to restore confidence. Their captain, James Hopes, certainly offers experience with over 200 list A games, but they also require a more substantial contribution from Ben Cutting. While he failed when promoted to six in the batting, Cutting took seven wickets over the two games between Queensland and Victoria last year and will hope for a similar impact.
Queensland won both those matches last year, as a strong Victorian squad ultimately underperformed. However, Victoria regrouped to win the Sheffield Shield, giving a more accurate representation of the side’s strength.
While their opposing starts will make Victoria favourites for this match, it is worth remembering that Queensland were nowhere near their best, and have a lot to offer this tournament.