Home advantage with SA but NSW travel well
South Australia will be vying for their third ING Cup win since 1969-70, and the first since 1986-87, against New South Wales on February 26 at the Adelaide Oval.
Greg Blewett, who charged SA to a place in the final with a century against Queensland last week, sounded upbeat ahead of Sunday's game. "NSW is very competitive but their ins and outs and our solid side may tell in the final," he told The Advertiser. NSW enter the final sans three of their stars - Michael Clarke, Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark, who are away in South Africa on national duty.
SA will field a settled side, with possibly Dan Cullen, the offspinner, coming in for the legspinner Cullen Bailey. "Our past couple of games have been really pleasing. We dominated in Brisbane and I think we will go in with the same mentality here in Adelaide," Blewett said. "We are really excited. It's nice not only to be in the final but to host it. It's a big advantage. NSW has beaten us twice this year so we think we are pretty much due." The Adelaide Oval will be hosting the domestic one-day final after 22 years.
NSW lost the opportunity to host the final through their one-run loss to Western Australia but will be boosted by their 100% record while playing away - they have won all their five away-games this summer. Prior to last Christmas NSW were the dominant side in both the Pura and ING competitions, but have performed rather indifferently this year. But Brad Haddin, the captain, is hoping the excitement of of a big occasion like the final will inspire his men.
"I think this has come at a perfect time for us. We need something different, and a final might just be what we're after," Haddin told The Sydney Morning Herald. "It's no secret we haven't been playing that good over the last month or so, but a final's a different occasion - it brings out different emotions and feelings, and qualities you do see in earlier-round games.
"What we've stressed to everyone is that what's gone before us means bugger-all. We're in a final and whoever turns up ready to play takes the points away. It's a totally different game in a final. We've also won every game we've played away, so there might have been something in that."
NSW will look to Phil Jaques to lead the way with the bat and will rely on their spin twins - Stuart MacGill and Jason Krejza - to do the honours with the ball. Jaques is the competition's record-breaking leading run-scorer with 662 runs, including four centuries, who, however, failed in his three state innings since being overlooked for the South Africa tour. Haddin will be hoping Jaques comes back with a big score when it really matters.
South Australia too will be looking to Mark Cosgrove, who has been second behind Jaques with 542 runs, to fire. Their attack will be centred on speedster Shaun Tait and former Test paceman Jason Gillespie, who has recently been on a comeback trail.
With both teams having different reasons to be happy about, the final promises to be a keenly fought encounter.
New South Wales: Phil Jaques, Craig Simmons, Matthew Phelps, Corey Richards, Dominic Thornely, Aaron O'Brien, Brad Haddin (capt, wk), Moises Henriques, Jason Krejza, Grant Roden, Aaron Bird, Doug Bollinger, Stuart MacGill.
South Australia: Greg Blewett, Cameron Borgas, Mark Cosgrove, Darren Lehmann (capt), Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Ken Skewes, Graham Manou (wk), Mark Cleary, Jason Gillespie, Daniel Cullen, Cullen Bailey, Shaun Tait.