A Sheffield Shield final berth is within reach for Queensland, but Victoria is providing stubborn resistance at the MCG.
With a berth in the Sheffield Shield final on the line, Queensland skipper James Hopes has bemoaned his side’s poor catching after Victoria surged to 0-109 at stumps on day three of their clash at the MCG.
Rob Quiney (57) and Dean Russ (47) were unbeaten at the close of play with the Bushrangers trailing by 164 runs after the Bulls declared with a 273-run first-innings lead at 8-483 midway through the second session.
Despite the strength of the Victorian fight back, Hopes said he had no reservations about the timing of his declaration.
“No, it makes me upset about how we catch,” Hopes said after the Bulls grassed five chances by his own count.
“We dropped a few today and that has cost us.”
Queensland entered the final round of the season in fourth place on the ladder on 22 points with Western Australia, NSW and South Australia all equal on 26 points.
With the Croweaters suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Tasmania in Hobart, the Bulls need an outright victory to swoop into the final against either WA or NSW, who are currently fighting for the right to host the decider in Canberra.
“I think we’ve got to play the game that’s in front of us and understand that [a finals berth] is at the end of it if we play well enough tomorrow,” Hopes said.
“By no means are the boys deflated that Victoria is 0-109. We didn’t expect them to roll over – they’re a good team and have been for years.”
Hopes was glowing in his praise of Peter Forrest, whose unbeaten 155 was the cornerstone of the Bulls’ first innings.
“He’s back to scoring runs consistently and must be knocking on the door of Australian selection, which is good for him,” he said.
“We’ve got two-and-a-bit sessions to bowl them out so it’s going to be hard work on that pitch, which hasn’t really deteriorated that much.”
NSW requires 110 runs with eight wickets in hand on day four to score an outright victory over WA and earn the right to host the final in Canberra against either WA or Queensland.
A draw there and an outright win to the Bulls would see Queensland host the final against NSW.
If WA defeat NSW and Queensland earn an outright victory then the Bulls would travel to Perth for the final.