Peter Forrest scored a classy century for Queensland on a hard-fought opening day of their Bupa Sheffield Shield contest with Victoria at the MCG.
On another scorching day in the Victorian capital, the Bulls won the toss and elected to bat but may have been soon regretting the decision as the Bushrangers' attack came out breathing fire, reducing the Queenslanders to 4-41 as Will Sheridan tore through the visitors' top order with three wickets.
But forgotten Australian batsman Peter Forrest refused to budge and soon started turning the pressure back on the Victorian attack as he posted a superb 119 before being caught behind off Bushrangers Shield debutant Fawad Ahmed.
However, Forrest still combined beautifully with James Hopes (88) as the pair produced an imperious 169-run stand that left the Victorians scratching their heads before young left-arm spinner Clive Rose bowled Hopes midway through the final session, denying the Bulls skipper his first ton in six years.
And, once Hopes was back in the sheds, the wickets started tumbling again for Victoria as Forrest was dismissed soon after before the Victorians produced three quick wickets to have Queensland teetering at 9-293.
But on a day packed with momentum shifts, it probably wasn't surprising that one last twist was in store as the Bulls produced a 29-run last-wicket stand between Cameron Gannon (13) and Ronan McDonald (18) that narrowly gave Queensland the upper hand with a first-up score of 322.
Victoria will also have a concern when they come out to bat on Tuesday as opener Chris Rogers hurt his finger after being struck in the field during the middle session.
The day started perfectly for the Vics as they attempted to snap a run of two consecutive Shield losses heading into this encounter.
Within the first hour, they had reduced the Bulls to 4-41 as Will Sheridan claimed three of his four wickets for the day.
Luke Pomersbach (4) was the first to go, attempting to pull Clint McKay (1-52) and simply finding a top-edge that flew straight to Scott Boland at mid-off.
Victorian wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb took the first of his four catches to send Dominic Michael (0) packing off Sheridan, while the bowler found himself on a hat-trick as he dismissed Greg Moller (25) and Chris Hartley (0) in consecutive balls.
Moller swung at a wide delivery and was caught behind off a thick edge, but Hartley felt he was a little hard done by as Sheridan found the finest of tickles off his bat to leave the Bulls' top order in disarray.
Nathan Reardon (17), however, denied Sheridan his hat-trick and it was his 49-run partnership with Forrest that wrested some of the momentum back for Queensland before Reardon was trapped in front by Ahmed after lunch for the former Pakistani spinners' first Shield wicket for Victoria.
However that simply brought Hopes to the crease and in tandem with Forrest, the pair turned up the heat on a Bushrangers attack that appeared to be struggling for answers as the batsmen defended stoutly and punished the bad deliveries with authority, despite the MCG's rather slow outfield.
Although he had been struggling in the Shield competition up to this point, Forrest showed off some superb strokes as he brought up the century in 203 balls.
Hopes wasn't far behind but just as the pair looked set to take the game completely out of Victoria's grasp, the Queensland skipper mis-judged the line of a delivery from Rose, playing around the ball and watching it crash into his stumps.
Forrest followed three overs later as he fell to a nice delivery from Ahmed (2-79) that turned away from the batsman and caught the edge.
However, despite losing their two in-form bats, Queensland didn't completely capitulate as they generated a further 63 runs from their last four wickets to be in a position of strength entering the second day.
Sheridan finished with 4-71 but Victoria may still be disappointed with its attack.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 18 February, 2013 6:42PM AEST