Injuries hit again but Vics having fun
Victoria has lost two more front-line bowlers for its Twenty20 clash against Western Australia at the WACA Ground tonight.
Pacemen Shane Harwood and Peter Siddle, who spearheaded the Victorian attack in the New Year's Eve Twenty20 win against Queensland in Townsville, have been ruled out because of respective hip and shoulder injuries.
They join captain Cameron White and quick Gerard Denton on the sidelines, with pace pair Clint McKay and Darren Pattinson coming into the 12.
It is a repeat of the past two seasons when injuries dogged the Victorian bowlers, yet the Bushrangers have managed to be unbeaten since the Twenty20 competition began two summers ago.
The Vics towelled Queensland by 47 runs four days ago and will meet a full-strength Warriors outfit coming off a loss in its opening KFC Big Bash match at home to Tasmania.
Victorian all-rounder Andrew McDonald, who starred in Townsville when he clouted 43 of 28 balls and then snared 3-20, said there was no pressure being the defending champion or in trying to sustain the undefeated run.
"Things are going well. We've always had the mindset that Twenty20 is all about enjoyment, so we're sticking to that in the build-up and not putting pressure on ourselves," McDonald said.
"It's a great showcase to show all your skills off, so we're just having fun.
"Fielding has been the difference. We sort of turned it on in the field the other night - a fantastic run-out and brilliant catch from Dave Hussey - so we're just out there enjoying it."
McDonald said that while luck was involved in all forms of the game, the frenetic Twenty20 format was far from a lottery.
"It's hell for leather, but it's all about cricket shots as well, about execution," he said.
"The game doesn't change, be it Test cricket, one-day or Twenty20 cricket. The elements remain the same and I suppose the skill level has got to be a little bit higher because you're under more pressure with the game so condensed.
"There's a pressure factor there, but it's all about the execution of skills."
Victoria has a golden chance to return for its two MCG games on Sunday (New South Wales) and Tuesday (Tasmania) with a 2-0 record, perfectly placed to reach a third consecutive final.
"It is a big game. If you can go two and zip it's a great fillip for the rest of the competition. We're undefeated at the moment and we're trying to keep that all intact," McDonald said.
"WA had a pretty good game in their opener. They got 188 or something and got run down, so it looks like it's going to be a high-scoring affair over there."
With the two finalists qualifying for the inaugural Twenty20 Champions Trophy in India in October against the top two sides from the domestic competitions in England, South Africa and India, Victoria will need three or four wins from its five round-robin games to make it through.