Vics in command on day one

DAVID Hussey’s 41st first-class century has the Bushrangers in command at stumps on the opening day of the twilight Bupa Sheffield Shield match against competition frontrunners Queensland at the MCG.

Accustomed to setting the pace in their five wins from five so far this season, the Bulls found themselves on the receiving end of Hussey’s punishing unbeaten 119.

The 34-year-old will resume at midday on Saturday alongside Andrew McDonald (41) with the Vics at 4-340 after skipper Cameron White won the toss and elected to bat on a deck that yielded the Bulls attack few favours.

There was barely a false stroke from the busy Hussey who brought up his hundred in 159 minutes from 129 deliveries with 12 boundaries and a brace of monster straight sixes off medium pacer Nathan Reardon and leggie Cameron Boyce.

Rob Quiney and Chris Rogers provided the platform for Hussey with a century opening stand.

The Bulls only managed to get nine overs out of their main attacking weapon, paceman Ben Cutting, who was a late addition to the squad after missing out on the starting XI for the First Test against New Zealand.

The 24-year-old – who came into this contest with 23 Shield wickets from four matches this season – is understood to be suffering from back stiffness, a legacy of his efforts to impress the selectors in the nets during the lead-up to the Gabba Test.

Matthew Gale and Luke Feldman were preferred with the new ball, though Cutting chimed in with the second wicket to fall, that of Bushrangers No.3 Aaron Finch for a duck.

Openers Quiney and Rogers dominated the opening session to guide the Bushrangers to 0-108 at lunch with Rogers passing a special career milestone – 8000 Shield runs – along the way.

The pair advanced the score to 133 when Rogers on 62 feathered a catch to ‘keeper Chris Hartley – standing-in as skipper for the injured James Hopes – off Matthew Gale.

After Finch came and went Quiney combined with Hussey for a 44-run stand that took the Vics to the shadows of 200 and the left-hander to the brink of three figures.

But on 87 Quiney got a faint edge to Reardon and was caught behind ending a 215-minute stay at the crease that yielded 12 spanking boundaries.

Hussey dominated a 72-run partnership with White (21) that ended when the Bushrangers skipper got a tickle midway through the tea session to one down the leg side from Reardon, providing Hartley with his third catch for the innings.

Thereafter it was left to McDonald to give as much of the strike as possible to Hussey, then sit back and enjoy the show.

As things stand, the Bulls face a tough task to preserve their perfect record in the Shield so far this season – five outright wins from five starts that includes a 66-run win over the Bushrangers at the Gabba in October.

The Vics sit in fourth place on the competition table on 10 points, 20 shy of the Bulls and four behind the second-placed Warriors and third-placed Tigers.

Rookie paceman Scott Boland is Victoria’s 12th man while Alister McDermott is 12th man for the Bulls.

Fine conditions are forecast for all four days of the match which is a twilight fixture with play scheduled to start at 12pm (AEDT) each day.

Victoria first innings
Rogers c Hartley b Gale 62
Quiney c Hartley b Reardon 87
Finch lbw Cutting 0
Hussey not out 119
White c Hartley b Reardon 21
McDonald not out 41
Extras: 10 (3lb, 5nb, 2w)
Total: 340 (4 wickets, 96 overs)
FoW: 1-133, 2-138, 3-182, 4-254

Bowling
Gale 23 – 2 – 79 – 1
Feldman 25 – 4 – 66 – 0 (1w)
Reardon 19 – 2 – 73 – 2 (3nb, 1w)
Cutting 9 – 2 – 36 – 1 (2nb)
Boyce 13 – 0 – 59 – 0
Broad 7 – 1 – 24 – 0

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