Victorian captain Matthew Wade expects Ashes aspirant Fawad Ahmed to rise to the challenge as he and Nathan Lyon vie for the Test spinner’s spot in front of skipper Michael Clarke this week.
The Pakistan-born 31-year-old’s opportunity to displace NSW’s Lyon to make his own debut will be one of the key subplots of the Sheffield Shield game which starts at the MCG on Wednesday.
Clarke said performance would be the key factor in which one ended up getting the nod.
“It’s a real positive sign for us that both guys are taking wickets,” he said.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens but, the more wickets both of them can take, the more they’re pushing for selection.”
Neither could bowl their states to victory in last week’s first round of Shield matches.
Lyon took three second-innings wickets as the Blues fell to Tasmania.
Ahmed, who claimed 6-68 in the first innings against Western Australia, couldn’t take a single second-innings scalp as the Warriors batted for more than a day to salvage a MCG draw.
“He’d definitely be disappointed in the way that he bowled in the second innings,” Wade told AAP.
“But Fawad’s a good competitor and he’s keen to get better every day.
“So he’ll work his tail off to work out how he’s going to best perform against a class batting line-up.
“I’ve got no doubt that he’ll bounce back really strong and put his hand up again.”
Wade said the presence of Test players Clarke, David Warner, Steve Smith and Lyon in the NSW line-up added an element for the Bushrangers, particularly those on the Test fringe.
The match will also be crucial for Warner, who failed in both innings against Tasmania and will have to face Test quick Peter Siddle.
“If you are on the fringe of playing for Australia and you perform well in this game, I’m guessing that you’ll get a few brownie points,” Wade said.
Victoria’s Cameron White will be keen to keep building a case for international selection, after impressing with bat and ball last week.
But Wade suggested White’s best chance would come in January’s one-day internationals.
Victoria: Matthew Wade (capt), Chris Rogers, Rob Quiney, Peter Handscomb, Cameron White, David Hussey, Aaron Finch, Daniel Christian, John Hastings, Peter Siddle, Scott Boland, Fawad Ahmed.
NSW: Michael Clarke (capt), Nic Maddinson, David Warner, Scott Henry, Steve Smith, Kurtis Patterson, Peter Nevill, Stephen O’Keefe, Sean Abbott, Nathan Lyon, Gurinder Sandhu, Doug Bollinger. (12th men to be named)