The class of returning speedsters Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood was too much for the myFoot Dr Queensland Bulls as the NSW Blues recorded a four-wicket win in the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup on Friday.
NSW chased down the 173-run target in the 40th over to earn a bonus point and move into third spot on the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup ladder and keep their title defence on track.
The win was set up by Cummins (4-26) and Hazlewood (2-30), who along with a bustling Doug Bollinger (3-38) claimed nine of the ten Bulls wickets to fall at Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval.
Cummins continued his successful return to elite cricket with his second four-wicket haul of the tournament, moving him into equal-first as the competition’s leading wicket-taker alongside South Australia’s Cam Velente with 10 scalps.
The 23-year-old was comfortably the quickest bowler on display, consistently rushing the Bulls batsmen and hitting the timber on three occasions.
"He bowled beautifully," fellow quick Hazlewood told Wide World of Sports.
"We were joking before when was the last time we played together ... we couldn’t quite think of it.
"He’s bowling really well and in the first two games as well."
New-ball partner Hazlewood didn’t possess the pace of Cummins, but what he lacked in acceleration he made up in accuracy, settling back into a trademark just-short-of-a-length zone that’s won him 20 Test caps.
"I feel good, I’ve had a good rest so I’m pretty refreshed and got some good strength work in so I’m feeling nice and strong," Hazlewood said on the television broadcast. "The ball came out pretty well today."
Queensland won the toss and elected to bat under clear skies and brilliant sunshine at the picturesque suburban venue.
While the conditions may have been perfect for cricket the Bulls’ start with the bat was anything but as Cummins and then Bollinger reduced the ladder-leaders to 2-34 in nine overs.
The Queenslanders could not escape the suffocating Blues bowling attack, hitting only 11 fours and one six in their innings that spanned 47.1 overs.
Hazlewood, unsuccessful in the wickets column but frugal in his opening spell, returned to bowl Bulls captain Jason Floros (36) and hard-hitting allrounder Ben Cutting (1) in the 43rd over and deny a late-innings charge.
Michael Neser (47) was the only batsman to post beyond 40 for the 'home' side on a pitch described as "up and down" by Hazlewood.
In reply, the Blues got off to a flyer, registering an opening half-century stand from 55 balls to set up the possibility of the bonus point.
Former Test batsman Ed Cowan continued his good form with a second successive fifty, anchoring the innings until his dismissal – well caught at third-man by Nathan Reardon – in the 23rd over.
Cutting gave the Bulls a glimmer of hope when he removed Nic Maddinson (13), Cowan and finally Test gloveman Peter Nevill when only 14 runs were required for victory.
But a courageous knock by veteran Ben Rohrer, who limped through his innings of 10 after sustaining a leg injury in the field, sealed the game with a six alongside Cummins with 65 balls to spare.
NSW have little time to savour the victory with their next match coming as soon as Sunday when they take on the powerful Victoria Bushrangers at North Sydney Oval in a day-night fixture, while the Bulls take on Western Australia at Hurstville Oval on Monday.