TASMANIA, Victoria and their respective wicketkeepers look like going head-to-head as the Ryobi Cup reaches its business end this weekend.
With just a handful of fixtures remaining, the Bushrangers are in the box seat with four wins in the bag, but a docked half point for a slow over rate could open the door for Tasmania, Queensland or New South Wales to snatch the first automatic finals spot.
The Tigers play their last match against rock-bottom and winless Western Australia today, knowing a win would be enough to overtake the Bushrangers ahead of their final fixture against New South Wales tomorrow.
The top side automatically qualifies for the final, while the second and third placed teams meet in a play-off on Thursday to decide the second finalist.
Meanwhile, the rival Bass Strait teams are operating a contest within a contest behind the stumps.
Hobart-born duo Tim Paine and Matthew Wade are both keen to establish themselves as Brad Haddin's outright national understudy and lead the fielding stats in the one-day competition.
Both have taken eight catches and a stumping from their five matches, but Paine tops the table courtesy of two run-outs.
Wade has also scored 215 runs at 43.00 and Paine 164 at 41.00.
Tigers coach Dan Marsh said Paine can use the competition to push his calls for an international recall.
``That's what it's there for,'' he said.
``At the moment it's the only avenue open to him unless he's good enough to get selected for Australia A,'' he said.
``For him it's about being a consistent performer at this level, taking the opportunities and he's going really well.''
Marsh said the 28-year-old, who has been filling in as captain while George Bailey leads the ODI tour to India, was over the long-running finger injuries which curtailed his national aspirations.
Marsh said he had been delighted how well his team bounced back from two early defeats to record three against-the-odds victories.
``Tim Paine has batted really nicely in the last couple of games.
``Jordan Silk is also doing a good job and Alex Doolan and Ed Cowan are batting well without getting the scores to prove it. I must admit I would like to see someone among them get a hundred.
``Among our bowlers Clive Rose has been consistent, so have Evan Gulbis and Sam Rainbird, and I've been really happy with our fielding.
``WA is going to be a very challenging game.
``Getting Shaun Marsh and Simon Katich in really strengthens their batting and they also have some good young bowlers so we'll have to play a very good game of cricket to win.
``We're planning for them just as we have for the other teams.''
Katich and Marsh both registered half-centuries in the Warriors' last match on Thursday although the team's total of 285 was run down by South Australia with nine balls to spare.
Doolan is the leading Tasmanian run-scorer in the competition with 181 at 36.20.
Ben Laughlin is the team's leading wicket-taker with seven at 32.57.