MICHAEL SHOWS GRIT DESPITE LOSS
Newcomer Dom Michael showed plenty of fight and re-born opener Greg Moller scored more runs but it was not enough to prevent Queensland from sliding to a heavy eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Victoria at the MCG today.
The XXXX GOLD Bulls slid from first to third on the cluttered Bupa Sheffield Shield table in the process, with the prospect of dropping another rung depending on the result of the WA Warriors-Tasmania Tigers game that started in Perth today.
Michael dug in for three hours for a defiant 41 as teammates continually fell around him, while Moller top-scored with 43 in the Queensland total of 249.
The day began brightly enough for the Bulls, with Moller driving the first two balls through the covers for four off the bowling of spinner Fawad Ahmed.
Luke Pomersbach hit Clint McKay to the fence in consecutive balls in the second over to show the Bulls would play their natural game after resuming the final day at 0-60, still 154 runs in arrears of the Bushrangers.
Pomersbach struck seven fours in his 39, but perished in the sixth over of the day attempting an eighth boundary when he pulled McKay high towards deep backward square leg and century-maker Michael Hill ran back with the flight of the ball to take a good catch.
Michael's nerves would have been jangling when he walked to the wicket, having made an eight-ball duck in his first innings under the maroon cap.
They wouldn't have been helped by the tight Victorian bowling which saw him face 24 balls before turning McKay to mid-wicket for a single to register his initial first class run.
The nerves frayed more when Moller and first innings century-maker Pete Forrest were dismissed within the space of two balls by Ahmed.
Moller was deceived by a wrong-un and judged leg before wicket trying to turn the ball into the on side, while Forrest's run of generally bad luck returned.
He too turned a ball into the onside that hit Rob Quiney at short leg and ballooned up to the other side of the pitch where an incredulous Hill gleefully accepted the catch.
It was three wickets in nine balls when a ball from paceman Scott Boland kept low and bowled Nathan Reardon for two, bringing renowned fighter Chris Hartley to the crease.
He battled for an hour and a half beside Michael, who was five off 60 balls at one stage, before Hartley tried to hit Ahmed over mid-on but was spectacularly caught by Hill, again running back with the flight, for 35.
The trend of losing wickets in braces continued when Ahmed caught the outside edge of James Hopes' bat for one, and all hope was gone when Michael was dismissed before tea after a promising stand with Nathan Hauritz.
Boland beat the bat on a number of occasions and Michael eventually edged him low to first slip. Michael survived 144 balls and hit four boundaries and a six. It was a determined innings in contrast to his swashbuckling 30 not out in his Ryobi Cup debut last weekend.
Hauritz hung around for more than an hour in making 29 and Cameron Gannon was also defiant with an unbeaten 19 off 83 balls, but the Bulls didn't get the one player to make three figures that they needed.
Ahmed finished with 5-83 from 32.3 overs and Boland 2-22 from 17 overs.
The Bushrangers lost opener Rob Quiney (3) and David Hussey (1) attempting big hits down the ground off Ronan McDonald and Gannon respectively, but reached their second innings victory target of 36 with eight wickets to spare.
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