BRISBANE: Australia top-order Test batsman Marnus Labuschagne was 160 not out on Friday to put Queensland into a commanding position in the Sheffield Shield first-class cricket final in Australia.

Queensland were 286-3 at stumps on the second day of the five-day match at the Allan Border Field, holding an overall lead of 143 runs. Matt Renshaw was 29 not out, sharing an unbroken 73-run fourth-wicket stand with Labuschagne to give Queensland a strong chance of claiming their ninth Shield title and first since 2017-18.

Queensland’s batsmen took charge after Michael Neser (5-27) and new-ball partner Jack Wildermuth (4-21) routed New South Wales for 143 on Thursday after the visitors won the toss and elected to bat.

The New South Wales’ Australian Test attack of Mitchell Starc (1-32), Josh Hazlewood (1-35) and off-spinner Nathan Lyon (1-87) appeared powerless to stop Labuschagne, who brought up his fourth Shield century of the season.

Labuschagne has had 19 boundaries in his 284-ball innings, pushing his Shield season run tally to 788 runs at an average of 87.55.

Indian Premier League duties meant New South Wales was without Australian Test players Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner and Moises Henriques.

Queensland earned hosting duties by leading the Shield table, 1.66 points clear of New South Wales.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2021

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