By Nick Creely and Tyler Lewis
Wickets tumbled at an alarming rate in a tense opening day of DDCA Turf 2 between Beaconsfield and Lyndale at Perc Allison Oval.
The game is well and truly in the balance on a nippy wicket, with 17 wickets falling in the 80 overs, nearly one every four overs.
The Two Blues sent the home side in to face the music, and immediately the Tigers were on the back foot, losing a couple of early scalps before experienced duo Brad Miles (31) and Achintha Rajapakse (37) went to work.
Despite the duo managing to find some runs and help rebuild the innings, a superb spell by star bowler Yohan Soyza (4/27) – who now has 12 wickets in three games – saw the visitors rattled through and roll the home side for just 112.
A strong victory was well and truly on the cards as the Two Blues raced away to 41 without loss, before an almighty collapse – sparked by a scintillating spell from Jake Cutting (4/5 from 10 overs) and Callan Tout (3/21) saw the visitors slump to 7/62 at stumps, still needing 51 runs to bank first-innings points.
Down at Casey Fields, meanwhile, runs were a little bit more free flowing, with Anurudhdha Fonseka registering a century for Parkmore Pirates against Cranbourne.
The star Pirate came in with his side under a little bit of pressure at 3/61, but – combined with Kasun Ranasinghe (60) and Niranjen Kumar (40) – got the game on his terms to make a sparkling 114 as his side racked up 8/300 off its 80 overs.
Tim Fathers (3/48) did some great work for the Eagles through the middle stages of the day, while Jordan Margenberg rolled over 26 overs to finish with 2/94.
But the Eagles will need captain-coach Sandun Dias to once again fire for his side when play resumes on Saturday after his incredible 121 guided his team to victory in the opening round.
Narre Warren are in pole position down at Narre Warren North, with the Rams struggling to find any momentum on another tough day for the side.
After batting first, the Rams could just muster up 151, with Viraj Alankara Gedara top scoring with 41, but were dented by regular wickets just as they looked like they could get going.
In reply, the Magpies raced to 1/85 at stumps, recovering from a wicket in the opening exchanges to finish in a dominant position.
Run machine Zach Allen is currently 70 not out for the Magpies, while Nuwan Sampath is on 15 and will be looking to cash in on Saturday.
In the final game of the round, Dingley and Dandenong West are locked in a fascinating clash at Souter Oval.
The Dingoes had a solid day with the bat without truly getting going, registering 199 after a late partnership helped set up the total.
While youngster Jay Jhamb showed some great signs with 40 and veteran Corey Booth also played well to make 36,the Westers were relentless with the ball all day, with Noman Khan (5/39) the pick of the bowlers.
Westers champ Peter Atkinson was also outstanding once again, bowling 24.2 overs for the very tidy figures of 2/39.
In Turf 3, meanwhile, Parkfield won the toss and opted to bat, ultimately setting a mammoth total for Fountain Gate to chase next week.
The Bears faced some early trouble, losing Matt Goodier (2) and Riley Payne (1) and the score at 2/14, with both scalps going to Jasdeep Singh (3/27 off 12).
But fluent starts through the middle and lower order, combined with a blistering knock of 76 from Travis D’Souza guided Parkfield to a promising 9/236.
While Singh was extremely sturdy with the ball, his stablemate Rodni Kumara was a prominent figure with the Kookaburra in hand, sending down 25 overs, claiming 3/69.
The Gators will have to bat well this week in order to stay in touch with the top two in the early stages of the year, while the Bears will be aiming to get into the four.
The match at Marriot Waters Reserve sits in the balance between Lynbrook and Coomoora overnight.
Lynbrook opted to set the tone with the bat, but could only manage 185, being bowled out in the 66th over of the day.
Cody Thompson (54) and Ravi Chaudhary (55) were strong with blade in hand both registering half-centuries but were a part of only four who could reach double figures for the Lakers.
With ball in hand, Lance Baptist was impossible to get away with 3/41 from 21 overs.
In reply, the Lakers have been rattled early from some impressive bowling by Medie Dala (2/11) and Jesse Walia (1/7), with the Roos 3/33 overnight, needing a further 153 for victory.
In the early doors top-of-the-table clash, Keysborough flexed its muscles against Silverton.
Some late order runs from Dale Weston (39) assisted the Bakers get to 111 after being in an early threat of being defeated outright on day one.
The Knights were running riot with the ball from both ends, Jagpreet Dhillon was the pick of the bowlers with 3/11 from eight overs.
With the bat, the Knights advanced their position overnight, currently sitting 3/98.
Kyle Murdoch crunched 42, while the in-form Tobey Harkin sits 39 not out.
Springvale staked its claim to get off the bottom of the table with a swashbuckling batting performance.
The Demons – who are yet to register a win this season – opted to bat first and it paid dividends when they finished the day with 259 on the board.
Gloveman Nuwan Mendis shrugged off his slowish start to the season with an astonishing 114 which included the 11 boundaries.
The Springs used nine bowlers in attempt to claim wickets and derail the rapid run rate, with Archit Vora was the pick of the nine with 3/42.