Frugal Lyon delivers Matador Cup title to NSW

New South Wales 4 for 188 (Henriques 85, Patterson 77*) beat Queensland 187 (Khawaja 35, Lyon 4-10) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Having been surplus to requirements in the previous match against Victoria, Nathan Lyon put in a more assertive display in the final © Getty Images

On Friday, Nathan Lyon was dropped by New South Wales for the elimination final against Victoria. On Sunday, he responded by dismantling Queensland to deliver the Matador Cup title to the Blues at North Sydney Oval and reassert his place as Australia’s most accomplished active spin bowler.

With players like Mitchell Starc, Steven Smith and David Warner looking on, Lyon’s display was a welcome sight for members of the national team at the start of the week in which the Test squad to face South Africa in Perth will be announced.

It also helped complete back-to-back domestic limited-overs titles for New South Wales, a possibility that had seemed remote earlier in the competition when the Blues had struggled in their win against the Cricket Australia XI and also dropped matches against Tasmania and South Australia. By contrast, Queensland had been the early pacesetters, winning their first four matches before slipping up in the final.

Lyon’s spell combined flight and frugality. At one point his analysis read an eye-popping 3 for 3 before he finished his 10 overs with figures of 4 for 10. Having been surplus to requirements on Friday, Lyon needed to put in a more assertive display, following some returns on the recent tour of Sri Lanka when he did not adapt well to the role of leading strike bowler in spin-friendly conditions.

This time around he was into the game with the early wicket of the Player-of-the-Tournament Marnus Labuschagne, and followed up by tempting the Bulls captain Usman Khawaja to top-edge a sweep. He then found a way past Jason Floros and rounded things off by deceiving Ben Cutting before he could do any serious damage with his notoriously clean hitting.

Trent Copeland, Pat Cummins and Doug Bollinger all provided useful support on a North Sydney pitch that posed some early challenges for batsmen but also rewarded patience. This was to be borne out when the Blues set about chasing the modest target – only once has a team successfully defended less than 240 on this ground.

Ed Cowan, Nick Larkin and Nic Maddinson all fell swiftly to a strong new-ball spell from Michael Neser, who will be particularly happy to have burst through Cowan’s forward stroke with some late inswing to the left-hander. However the innings was steadied and then controlled by the Blues captain Moises Henriques.

In partnership with the tall, elegant Kurtis Patterson, Henriques worked the ball around initially before opening his shoulders with some compelling blows. By the time Henriques fell to Mitch Swepson’s leg breaks for 85, the Blues were well and truly in charge, meaning the tournament was won by the team that finished strongest, rather than that which started fastest.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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