The myFoot Dr Queensland Bulls have secured their place in the 2016 Matador BBQs One-Day Cup final with a three-wicket win against the Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers on Tuesday.
The win means Queensland move straight through to Sunday’s final at North Sydney Oval, with four other sides - NSW, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia - all in the hunt.
Quick Single: Matador Cup - roads to the final
Victoria will be hoping South Australia don’t demolish Tasmania at Hurstville Oval on Wednesday otherwise they will miss out on a top three spot and progression to Friday’s preliminary final.
Bulls batsmen Marnus Labuschagne (89) and Nathan Reardon (64) proved a match-winning thorn in the Bushrangers’ side, combining for a 144-run partnership to set up the victory at Drummoyne Oval.
"When you get a really good start it puts them on the back foot and you can kind of have a couple of good overs and not be under the pump," man of the match Labuschagne said.
"The key is early - and both teams did that well - early on you need to score as many runs as possible and then through the middle not lose wickets.
"(I was) a bit lucky in the middle there, being dropped (by Glenn Maxwell). But I felt good and it was good to get the boys close to home but next time we need to make sure we get there with three or four down."
The pair came together in 13th over after returning Queensland captain Usman Khawaja raced to 38 from 27 balls before edging Australia teammate John Hastings (2-53) behind to Matthew Wade.
"He's very good for our team," Labuschagne said of Khawaja. "You saw how valuable he is for us at the top of the order.
"You can't ... he's just irreplaceable. You saw what he did today."
Test aspirant Joe Burns looked polished for 17 from as many balls until he was undone by Marcus Stoinis (3-37) who jagged a delivery back from well outside off-stump to trap the right-hander.
Reardon fell in the 40th over, holing out to Peter Handscomb off Hastings, and Labuschagne in the 46th, but some lusty blows by Ben Cutting (19 from 12 balls) iced the game with 24 balls to spare.
Like they did two days ago against NSW, the Bushrangers' top order got off to a flying start through openers Aaron Finch (79) and Cameron White (69).
Finch hit nine fours and three sixes, and White 10 fours and the solitary six, as the hard-hitting duo put on 121 before the former was dismissed in the 21st over to leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson (1-55).
"No hundreds today unfortunately and that’s what was probably missing in both games (against NSW and Queensland)," Finch said after play.
"In the last game they (NSW) got two hundreds and won, today at the top we got two fifties again and come up short.
"It’s nice to contribute with some runs but at the end of the day we haven’t won any games for the state."
White went 10 overs later – caught and bowled by Jason Floros – with nobody else in the Bushrangers line-up kicking on.
Four Victorian batsmen departed for scores between 20 and 32, failing to capitalise on their starts as Cutting claimed 4-56 from 10 overs.
The group-stage of the Matador Cup will conclude Wednesday with NSW and WA squaring off at North Sydney Oval and South Australia taking on Tasmania in Hurstville.