Cricket Australia Items/news/2013/2/26/vics-bulls-chase-ryobi-cup-glory

Vics, Bulls chase Ryobi Cup glory

UPDATED 26 February, 2013 1:58PM AEST | by James Willoughby, Omnisport 2

Victoria will contest their sixth domestic one-day final in seven years when they host Queensland in Wednesday's Ryobi Cup decider at the MCG.

The Bushrangers have only won one of those five finals – in 2011 against Tasmania – while two of their defeats in the season finale were against Queensland, in 2007 and 2009.

Victoria topped the table at season's end with five wins from their eight matches, while Queensland were just behind them with four wins and one no-result.

With a gap of almost two months in the season due to the Twenty20 Big Bash League, both sides have only played two 50-over matches in 2013.

The teams actually played each other in their last match, with the Bulls running out winners by six wickets with less than three overs remaining.

Chris Hartley (74) and Nathan Reardon (52 not out) starred with the bat for Queensland, while Matthew Gale took five wickets for the victors.

The two sides also played each other in the Sheffield Shield last week, the match ending in an eight-wicket win for the Victorians.

Bushrangers skipper Cameron White and Michael Hill (both 144) found form with the bat while leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed starred, finishing with match figures of 7-162.

It was a performance that has seen the Pakistan-born Ahmed – who sought asylum in Australia – spoken about as a potential Test player, given the nation's recent problems in identifying quality spin bowlers.

Victoria's other match in 2013 was a thrilling two-wicket win against South Australia in Adelaide, achieved with three balls to spare, while Queensland's other clash saw them thumped by Western Australia to the tune of 110 runs.

But consistent performances in the first half of the season proven enough to secure a place in the final for both teams.

Victoria boast the two highest run-scorers in the competition with Aaron Finch (497 runs from six matches) and David Hussey (350 from six) having enjoyed terrific seasons.

The Bulls will be particularly wary of Finch, after he blasted 154 – the second highest score of the season – against them at the Gabba in October.

John Hastings (13 wickets in six matches) has been Victoria's best performer with the ball.

Hartley (315 runs in seven fixtures) tops the pile for Queensland while their wickets have been spread around a variety of players.

As has been the case for the majority of the season, both states will not be able to field full-strength sides due to Australia being in action – this time on a four-Test tour of India.

Victoria will be without wicket-keeper Matthew Wade, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and quicks James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.

Queensland's only player selected on the India tour was Usman Khawaja.

National selectors have allowed players from Victoria and Queensland involved in the Australia A camp – playing a five-match one-day series against the England Lions – an early release from that squad though.

This means that Finch and Hastings can represent the Bushrangers, while Queensland will get back young batsman Joe Burns and paceman Alister McDermott.

Ben Cutting – who picked up a groin injury against the England Lions – is not available for selection for the Bulls.

With the experience of White, Hussey, Finch and Robert Quiney in addition to a bowling attack containing Clint McKay, Hastings and Ahmed, Victoria present a difficult proposition for the visitors.

But Queensland – winners of last year's Sheffield Shield – will enjoy taking on the tag of underdogs and will be quietly confident of spoiling the Bushrangers' party at the MCG.

Victoria: Cameron White (c), Fawad Ahmed, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, Michael Hill, David Hussey, Clint McKay, Darren Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Chris Rogers, Will Sheridan

Queensland: James Hopes (c), Joe Burns, Peter Forrest, Cameron Gannon, Ryan Harris, Chris Hartley, Nathan Hauritz, Alister McDermott, Greg Moller, Michael Neser, Luke Pomersbach, Nathan Reardon (12th man to be named)

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 26 February, 2013 11:45AM AEST

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