Symonds keeps Bulls in touch after Hussey and Rogers fire
Victoria 6 for 281 (Hussey 113, Rogers 105, Symonds 3-34) v Queensland
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Andrew Symonds is supposed to be proving his batting is ready for a Test return in the Ashes, but it was his medium pace that kept Queensland in with a chance of an upset in the Sheffield Shield final. David Hussey's 113 and 105 from Chris Rogers lifted the Bushrangers from two early slips and they struggled over the final hour to finish with 6 for 281.
Victoria, who need only a draw in the five-day final to lift the trophy, went to lunch having lost Nick Jewell and Brad Hodge, but they recovered through a 181-run stand between Rogers and Hussey before losing the momentum when Symonds grabbed the second new ball. Symonds, who is recovering from knee surgery and off-field problems, helped Queensland regain their spark when he picked up Hussey and the nightwatchman Dirk Nannes, while the impressive James Hopes removed Rob Quiney with a glance behind.
The breakthroughs left the game delicately balanced and the stumbles will raise concerns in the Victoria dressing room after their losses in the FR Cup and Twenty20 finals this season, along with a five-year drought in the Sheffield Shield. Symonds' late burst also allowed Queensland to stop worrying about the Bushrangers posting another massive total to follow their 8 for 806 last weekend. Symonds finished with 3 for 34 from 15 overs while Hopes had 2 for 47 off 21 to cover some of the lapses of an attack missing the injured Ashley Noffke and Ryan Harris.
While Rogers provided the steel for Victoria, Hussey displayed the flair and spent 180 balls collecting 14 fours, and two sixes off Daniel Doran. After giving Rogers a 90-minute start, Hussey beat his partner to a century, ending his year-long drought with a drive to midwicket for two. Like Rogers, he didn't stay long after raising his bat and was lbw to a Symonds inswinger.
The momentum changed swiftly after lunch when Hussey struck four boundaries from Ben Cutting and followed up by hitting the legspinner Doran for six to long-on and adding a four in the same over. The pair continued to build during the impressive stand before the visitors hit back.
An over after Hussey got his hundred, Rogers took ten from Doran to bring up his fifth century of an incredible summer - he is second on the run list - and he walked off with his tally at 1153 for his new state. Rogers remained committed through the tricky opening exchanges, experienced a couple of near misses and then built another firm platform.
The end was a surprise as Rogers played back to Doran and got an edge on to his hip that popped to Ryan Broad at short leg. Having jumped in the air and pumped his fist on gaining three figures, he was quickly shaking his head and leaving after 14 boundaries and 237 balls.
Rogers, who continues to hope for an Ashes spot, survived an opening-over lbw appeal and was dropped off Symonds' bowling by Shane Watson on 18, with Martin Love unable to collect the ricochet to his left. He remained unflustered and a straight four off Hopes, who was always a challenge with his swinging deliveries, was particularly smart. He also pulled and cut Symonds for boundaries in the same over and showed his strength square of the wicket again with a couple of fours from Ben Laughlin.
Hopes opened the bowling and picked up Jewell (6) lbw playing back in the seventh over and the Bushrangers were 2 for 55 when Symonds confused Hodge into edging to Watson at second slip. From there the match swung back and forth to ensure a compelling second day.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo