Marnus gives Bulls whip hand
Test No.3 Marnus Labuschagne has a double century in sight after Queensland dominated day two of the Sheffield Shield final against NSW in Brisbane yesterday.
The Blues’ star-studded attack only took two wickets for the day as Labuschagne struck a chanceless 160 not out to guide the Bulls to 3-286 by stumps, holding an overall lead of 143.
Matt Renshaw is 29no, sharing an unbroken 73-run fourthwicket stand with Labuschagne to put Queensland in the box seat to claim Shield title No.9 and their first since 2017-18.
The Bulls batsmen took charge after Michael Neser (527) and new-ball partner Jack Wildermuth (4-21) routed NSW for 143 on Thursday.
NSW’s Test attack of Mitchell Starc (1-32), Josh Hazlewood (1-35) and off-spinner Nathan Lyon (1-87) were powerless to stop run machine Labuschagne.
He brought up his fourth Shield ton of the season — the most centuries in the 2020-21 competition — and eighth overall with a reverse sweep for four off Test teammate Lyon.
Labuschagne has struck 19 boundaries in his 284-ball knock, pushing his Shield season run tally to 788 runs at 87.55.
It continues a stellar season which also featured 426 runs at 53.25 in the Test series against India.
After Queensland resumed on Friday at 1-58, Labuschagne shared a 126-run second- wicket stand with patient opener Bryce Street (46) to set up a huge first innings lead for the hosts.
Street had lives on 14 and 27 but finally fell after lunch caught behind off Lyon, ending an epic 203-ball knock that featured just five fours.
There was no let-up for the NSW attack with ex-Test batsman Usman Khawaja (23) sharing a 60-run third wicket stand with Labuschagne.
IPL duties ensured NSW were without Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner and Moises Henriques for the Shield final.
But the Blues were still backing themselves to claim consecutive Shield titles for the first time since 1993-94 and a record 48th crown overall with a bowling arsenal also featuring Trent Copeland and Sean Abbott.
However, the Blues now look set to suffer just their second loss in 14 games against Queensland after a nightmare start to the five-day Shield decider.