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"I don't know if I've seen him bowl better": Pattinson in good nick for Shield final

Cricket

Victorian spearhead James Pattinson is back to his confident best and looms as a key to the Bushrangers claiming a third consecutive Sheffield Shield title.

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The injury-prone quick has taken 20 wickets in four games since returning from a 12-month layoff in February, including match-winning spells against Queensland and Western Australia to cap off the season.

He will lead Victoria’s attack in their Shield final rematch against South Australia from Sunday in Alice Springs.

Veteran batsman Aaron Finch believes Pattinson has never looked better and says the 26-year-old has provided a spark for the group.

“When you’ve got guys like Patto coming back into the squad who are fresh and ready to go, I think that creates a lot of energy around the place,” Finch said.

“I think it took him a couple of games to get his rhythm back again. That second innings spell against WA up in Alice – to knock them over when they were starting to build a nice lead was unbelievable, and then he just kept that going in Brisbane.

“He looks like he’s bowling within himself but still fast and still with a lot of control. He’s obviously very passionate and when he gets his tail up, he’s hard to stop.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen him bowl better than this at the moment. The confidence levels in his body are sky-high.”

The Bushrangers have made one change for the final, recalling leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed.

He replaces paceman Jackson Coleman, who was 12th man for the weekend’s innings win over Queensland in Brisbane.

Ahmed played his first Shield game of the season earlier this month when he took five wickets in Alice Springs as Victoria beat WA by eight wickets.

With the pitch at Traeger Park considered spin-friendly, it’s likely the Bushrangers will play both Ahmed and left-arm spinner Jon Holland, who has enjoyed an outstanding season with 42 wickets.

Holland is tied for the second-most wickets in the competition with teammate Chris Tremain, while Scott Boland has chipped in with 29.

Finch said that depth would go a long way to success against the Redbacks, who boast the competition’s leading wicket-taker in Chadd Sayers.

-AAP

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