Daniel Hughes was stranded two short of a century and Doug Bollinger produced some vintage fast bowling as NSW took a stranglehold on the Shield match against Queensland at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field.
Hughes may be in the immediate Ashes frame but he reminded the National Selection Panel of his worth as he compiled an unbeaten 98, leading all scores for the Blues as they overhauled Queensland’s first innings of 183 to be dismissed for 271.
Queensland were 5/129 in reply, a lead of just 41 as NSW seek to end proceedings on day three.
It looked as if Hughes would crack a deserved century before batting partner Bollinger was caught short as the pair set off for the second run. The bails were swiftly removed by Jimmy Peirson and Hughes trudged off perilously close to his milestone.
Bollinger was as disappointed as anyone for his teammate but swiftly took it out on the Queensland opening pair of Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw, who continued his run of disappointments on Tuesday.
Burns was presented with a barely playable inswinging yorker that crashed into his foot on the first ball. The finger was raised before he could comprehend what just happened and the case was off to a nightmare start.
Renshaw was desperate for runs, given rival opener Cameron Bancroft was busy making a double century on the other side of the continent. Instead, he feathered one off Bollinger down the left side for just one. He cut a forlorn figure as he trudged off the field.
He may yet get an Ashes reprieve, with the option of playing Bancroft at six, but 70 runs across six Shield innings this season doesn’t make for pleasant reading. He has looked tentative and down on confidence; a shadow of the player that came from the clouds to force his way into the Test side this time last year.
Usman Khawaja continued his fine form ahead of the Ashes, notching up another half century to start digging the Queenslanders out of a hole. He has looked a player in complete control of his game over the opening few days but did undergo a rush of blood on 51, when he tried to loft Nathan Lyon down the ground.
The leading edge fell to Hughes, before Marnus Labuschagne (55 not out) held on gamely as the home side limped to 5/129 at stumps on day two.
Bollinger (2/35) was the pick of the NSW attack in Queensland’s second innings, with Lyon, Sean Abbott and Henriques all chipping in with wickets as the Blues steam towards maximum points.