Queensland’s axed Test duo Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja stole the show on the Sheffield Shield’s return, both making big centuries in a three-wicket win over Tasmania.
Burns and Khawaja will need to make a mountain of runs to force their way back into the Test equation, but they have made a perfect start to the mission by scoring 171 and 115 not out respectively.
Opener Burns was man-of-the-match for his first innings masterclass that kept Queensland in the fight after it collapsed from 1-124 to 7-161. Burns stroked 22 boundaries as he single-handedly pulled the Bulls to 275 in reply to Tasmania’s first innings 332.
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Brilliant Khawaja leads QLD to victory
Later chasing 310 in the fourth innings, Khawaja completed the remarkable Bulls turnaround by scoring an unbeaten 115 off 206 balls to seal the win.
He was well-supported by Australia’s Test No.3 Marnus Labuschagne, who made 78 runs off 151 balls after scoring 49 in the first innings.
Khawaja hasn’t played for Australia since the 2019 Ashes and has slipped back in the selection queue behind the likes of Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris.
But he’s refusing to go without a fight; he’s now made 344 runs at 68.80 this Shield season, along with two centuries.
Burns also won’t go quietly having been axed from Australia’s Test XI mid Border-Gavaskar series.
The 31-year-old paid the price for a horrendous run of form with the bat at the start of the summer, but is finally back in the runs, lifting his Shield average this season to 35.42.
Meanwhile, Tim Paine made scores of 20 and 9 for Tasmania in the loss at Bellerive Oval.
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MADDINSON CONTINUES RELENTLESS PUSH
In the round’s other match, Nic Maddinson impressed once again as Victoria claimed a four-wicket win over a stacked NSW side at the SCG.
The three-Test player made 77 off just 80 balls in the first innings followed by 44 off 77 in the second.
He is now averaging 52.25 after three matches, following on from his league-leading 780 runs at 86.66 last season.
Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon were all in action for the Blues, but only the latter impressed in what was a largely dire display of batting for both sides.
Fresh off a poor series against India, in which he only took nine wickets, Lyon took 10-78 against Victoria to claim his 600th first-class scalp.
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Australia’s star quicks didn’t fare so well; Starc’s bowling woes continued with match figures of 1-104, while Hazlewood took 1-72.
Smith also failed to make an impact, falling for scores of 7 and 13 as NSW was rolled for 165 and 175.
Moises Henriques topscored for NSW in the first innings with his 67 off 170 balls, while a blistering 73 from 75 from Sean Abbott saved the hosts’ blushes in the second innings.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough to hold off Victoria whose quicks ran riot.
Scott Boland claimed 4-57 in the second innings, Mitchell Perry 2-14 and Will Sutherland 2-26 to help set-up the win.
Victoria then made 6-143 in the fourth innings to win in just three days.
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