Pura Cup 2004-05 February 28, 2005

Bulls stick to winning line-up for MCG

Cricinfo staff

Shane Watson, who is recovering from a side strain, is expected to return to bowling against Victoria © Getty Images

Queensland will take the same team that beat South Australia in three days into the grudge Pura Cup match against Victoria at the MCG starting on Thursday. Contests between the sides have become increasingly fierce over the past couple of years and this one is desperately important as the Bushrangers cling to the hope of back-to-back titles.

The Bulls are currently second on 34 points, two behind Western Australia and six ahead of New South Wales, while Victoria are ten adrift and need outright victories from the two remaining matches to qualify for the final. Victoria, who thrashed Queensland in last year's decider, have beaten the Bulls in two ING Cup matches this season as well as the Pura Cup game at Brisbane in December.

Victoria have also named an unchanged line-up from the one that beat Tasmania at the MCG yesterday. The match could hold even more significance for Shane Warne as he chases the five wickets needed to reach 1000 in first-class matches. Only 11 Australians have reached the mark and Warne would be the first since Graham McKenzie, the Western Australia fast bowler who finished his career in 1975 with 1219 victims.

Shane Watson, used in a batsman-only role against South Australia, is expected to bowl after recovering from a side strain suffered in the VB Series finals against Pakistan. "The plan is for Shane to do some more bowling this week under controlled circumstances and then step it up to include some spells during the game," Terry Oliver, the coach, said.

Queensland Jimmy Maher (capt), Clinton Perren, Martin Love, Shane Watson, Craig Philipson, Lachlan Stevens, Wade Seccombe, Andy Bichel, Ashley Noffke, Mitchell Johnson, Joe Dawes, Brendan Nash.

Victoria Matthew Elliott, Jason Arnberger, Brad Hodge, Graeme Rummans, Jonathan Moss, Ian Harvey, Cameron White (capt), Adam Crosthwaite (wk), Shane Warne, Nick Jewell, Shane Harwood, Michael Lewis.