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.
Buoyed by the availability of their in-form Test stars, NSW appear unstoppable after they eased into next weekend’s one-day cup cricket final.
The Blues beat Queensland by 146 runs on Friday to claim a fifth successive win.
Australia Test skipper Steve Smith hit 136 not out for his second century in five outings as the Blues reached an imposing 6-304 at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney.
Mitch Starc has been the bowling hero for the Blues but with the paceman rested, Test teammate Nathan Lyon stepped into the breach collecting 4-31 with his off-spin, as the Bulls were bundled out for just 158 in the 40th over.
Smith and Moises Henriques (89) put on 181 for the fourth wicket; more than the entire Queensland innings.
“Moises batted superbly and summed up the conditions really well,” Smith said.
“That enabled me to knock the ball around and then try and hit a few out of the park after I got my hundred.”
Queensland slipped to 8-90 with only 77 from Joe Burns helping the Bulls avoid complete embarrassment.
“NSW are the team to beat, they haven’t come close to losing yet,” said Queensland batsman Usman Khawaja.
“They are a very disciplined (bowling) unit. (Josh) Hazlewood, (Gurinder) Sandhu, (Sean) Abbott, Lyon, (Steven) O’Keefe, it could almost be a Test attack, but as batters we just have to be better.”
The Blues have now won all five of their matches by a massive margin, as they aim to end their 10-year competition trophy drought.
Smith was slightly troubled with a minor knee complaint during his innings and may sit out Sundays’ match against Victoria, ahead of the final on Sunday week.
With two centuries and one half-century from five matches, Smith appears in a rich vein of form heading into his maiden summer as a Test captain.
“It was nice to score some runs, but I think the wickets in Test cricket will be a bit different to this (tournament),” he said.
“But it is has been good to spend some time in the middle and I feel good about my game at the moment so hopefully I can have a big summer.”