Sydney: Jimmy Maher, surviving three close shaves, virtually guaranteed Champions Queensland would host this month's Sheffield Shield final with a century on the opening day against New South Wales (NSW) on Friday.
Maher's faint hopes of sneaking into the Australian Limited Overs squad to tour South Africa - expected to be announced on Sunday - were done no harm in an unbeaten 348-minute knock of 151 that guided Queensland to an stumps total of 325 for one. Maher survived a huge appeal for caught behind on one before he was dropped on seven and 29 - both tough, diving chances in the slips that nevertheless could have been taken. Martin Love was in the best touch of all, cruising to his century from 166 balls with 11 boundaries and rarely looking troubled. Going into this penultimate round, Queensland led on 28 points from South Australia (20), Western Australia (18), Tasmania (18), Victoria (12) and NSW (12). In Melbourne, Victoria was heading for outright points after dominating Western Australia in the first two days of its match. WA was forced to follow on after being dismissed for 175 in reply to Victoria's 450 for six declared and at stumps was 18 for two. Tasmania's pacemen gave their side the upper hand as South Australia was dismissed for 200 on the opening day of its match at Adelaide Oval.Tasmania was 26 for one in reply at stumps with captain Jamie Cox not out on 21.
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