Victoria on top after dealing with Broad obstacle
Queensland 6 for 199 (Broad 82) trail Victoria 305 (Wade 96, Swan 3-65) by 106 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Bowling has been a strength for Victoria throughout the season and making runs has been Queensland's biggest worry. In the most important game of the season the Bushrangers' attack clicked again, but Ryan Broad refused to give in and his 82 dragged the Bulls to 6 for 199 in reply to 305.
The final started in a flurry of action but the second day was a grind and nothing came easily. Victoria are used to this sort of game and at stumps the hosts held the advantage thanks to the early work of Damien Wright, Darren Pattinson and Andrew McDonald. Throw in John Hastings, who was unlucky to miss a wicket, and the legspinner Bryce McGain, who removed Broad and Chris Hartley, and it is a formidable attack.
This is a new-ball wicket for the bowlers and once the ball softens the batsmen can feel more comfortable, although it doesn't mean runs will come freely. To survive in these conditions they need to be unflappable, focussed and lucky. Broad was all of those as he delivered an innings that was as important as Matthew Wade's 96 on the opening day.
Appeals often echoed around the MCG but Broad didn't get flustered and he hung around for 206 balls to pick up the boundaries when the bowlers lapsed. He played and missed a lot, but will remember the handful of nice drives for four, including a crisp straight one off McDonald in the middle session.
There were also thick edges and many moments of discomfort in an old-fashioned innings that was just what Queensland needed. When he got to his half-century with a late cut off Hastings he barely raised his bat, knowing there was so much more to do. He stayed until 25 minutes before stumps when he missed a drifting ball from McGain that bowled him.
In the opening session Broad watched Wade Townsend lose his bails to a Pattinson inswinger and Lee Carseldine depart to an edge that left the hosts at 2 for 14. The visitors had been desperate for something more solid at the start of their reply after being forced to wait more than half an hour to grab Victoria's final wicket, which came with Townsend's athletic take of Pattinson at square leg.
Chris Lynn, the 19-year-old, contributed a useful 40 in partnership with Broad before he was the first of McDonald's two successes, lbw to one coming back in and heading for leg stump. While most of the batsmen were in defensive mode, James Hopes (17) wanted to attack and his search for a fifth boundary ended in McDonald's second and a catch for David Hussey at second slip.
At 4 for 93 Victoria attempted to move in, but Broad was joined by Hartley and the stubborn duo put on an important 65 at a touch more than two an over. The Victorians groaned regularly at missed opportunities or rejected appeals and it took a fuller ball from McGain to take care of Hartley, who missed an attempted sweep. As McGain, who had 2 for 29, punched the air Hartley walked off with 24 off 95 balls, passing his captain on the way. Chris Simpson was still there at stumps on 15 while Ben Cutting had 1.
Victoria's bowlers will feel they deserved more wickets and they are right. Wright (1 for 32 off 17) and Pattinson were impressive and Hastings has a strange ability to deliver balls that manage to avoid the wickets by millimetres after beating the batsmen. McDonald's stump-to-stump line makes him so difficult on this surface and he is cable of removing tail-enders in a hurry. However, the new ball on the third morning is the best chance of a quick close to the innings and a healthy lead for the hosts.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo