By Tyler Lewis
Although James Nanopoulos ran riot with the ball against a star stuttered Geelong side, Dandenong still face an uphill battle to claim victory next Saturday.
With overhead conditions unavoidable and a wicket that in recent times has misbehaved, returning skipper Tom Donnell won the toss and sent the Cats in.
It took only two Jakeb Thomas deliveries for the decision to pay off with the big quick sending Geelong’s opener Mitch Reid back to the shed inside the first over of the day.
But it was the elegance and experience of James Nanopoulos who did the brunt of the damage from then on.
Nanopoulos claimed two wickets in the space of three balls to change the game early on and move the Cats to 3/19 – his figures at that stage, 2/2 from five.
With Eamonn Vines dead batting everything at one end, gloveman Josh McDonald opted to fight fire with fire by going after the likes of Peter Cassidy in an attempt to shift momentum.
Cassidy ultimately got his man when the right-hander spooned a drive to the debutant in Zac Grundmann-Perera at mid-off.
When Vines was trapped in front LBW, Nanopoulos had three and looked merely impossible for the batsman to score from, let alone survive.
All concerns of the threat of the Dandenong bowling attack washed away with the quick claiming 7/43 from 15.5 overs and assisting heavily in bundling the Cats out for 155.
The wicket looked an extremely difficult batting deck and it was proven in the Panthers reply, when Brett Forsyth was the early wicket.
Comrey Edgeworth and Tom Donnell nudged the ball around before Edgeworth was dismissed leg before.
Through Edwards and the returning skipper, the Panthers were able to scrounge to 2/42 – before Geelong’s Dom McGlinchey took it upon himself to challenge the stupendous figures of Nanopoulos.
The quick took 4/4 in the space of 12 deliveries to rattle the middle order of the Panthers.
Ed Newman’s difficult season continued with another scoreless knock, while Grundmann-Perera didn’t have the dream debut innings as the two were among the scalps of McGlinchey.
While chaos embarked at one end, Tom Donnell could only watch on from the other as his side crumbled from 2/42 to 6/50.
Rain finished pay early in what seemed to be a batsman nightmare of a day. 16 wickets falling for only 209 runs conceded.
James Nanopoulos was the shining strong on a very dark day, the Panthers were placed in a strong position from his bowling performance.
The superstar told Star News Group what was going through his mind when he was running through the Geelong batting card before swiftly deferring the attention away from his mesmeric spell.
“It was a bowler’s dominated contest that’s for sure,” he said
“I generally always try and hit the stumps.
“(I was thinking) keep doing what I am doing really, I was able to get the ball up there and trying to hit the stumps as much as possible.
“Especially when a new batsman comes to the creases, to hit the stumps, challenge their defence as much as possible.
“It is always hard when the ball is doing a little bit but I was able to do that as much as possible and got some good reward for it.
“Early on when (Eamonn) Vines was in I probably bowled wide to him and he left really well, (I) had to change that up a bit and make sure I was hitting the stumps.
“I have been around a fair while now so I have to pick up some of the slack that Darren (Pattinson) has left and lead the young guys by example.
“I have bowled pretty ordinary to be fair, picked up wickets at the end in the one dayers, but was lucky enough to cash in on Saturday which was pleasing.
“The kids are going well, Jakeb Thomas has really stepped up this year going well with the new ball, he has been a real shining light and hopefully he can continue forward.”
Play is set to resume with the Panthers at 6/54 and Tom Donnell unbeaten on 27, the left-hander has the ability to accelerate an innings or anchor one, the big question looms of at what stage does the champion open the bag of tricks and try to get the remainder of the 102 required from his own blade.