By Tyler Lewis
Six points sits in the balance for both Dandenong and Camberwell after an extremely slow day concluded on stumps week-one.
With Camberwell winning the toss and opting to bat, on what has been a dicey wicket throughout the season, the first half-hour was crucial.
It was a matter of who was going to land the first blow, and when Isaac Conway leant back and hooked Josh Shaw to the fence, it seemed it would be the Magpies.
But with James Nanopoulos at the other end finding his areas, survival became first priority.
The Pies got to drinks, but it wasn’t without a number of scares – mainly from Nanopoulos’ end before the break as he had 0/6 from seven overs with each ball looking likely to make the breakthrough.
Peter Cassidy came on and applied instant pressure, bowling his trademark line and lengths.
Accompanied by the spin of Suraj Randiv, the Panthers strangled the Pies through run rate and claimed the first two wickets before lunch with the run rate below two an over.
After lunch, Dandenong got on top, wickets through Nanopoulos, Shaw and Cassidy had the Panthers threatening to bust the game right open.
When Nanopopulos kept hitting the pads and beating the edge of Camberwell champion Simon Hill, the game was on a knife’s edge.
As the wicket flattened out, Hill did as he has done on so many occasions – fought through the barrage.
The left-handed superstar notched his second half-century on the bounce and his 61st in Victorian Premier Cricket.
It took until the final hour for the Magpies to get the run rate over two an over as Hill started to nudge the ball around, finding his groove with the latter end of the Pies batting card.
Batting the 96 overs, Camberwell have 10 overs to bat next week to go on with its current score of 6/210, Hill unbeaten on 75.
Cassidy (3/34 from 20 including five maidens), Randiv (1/48 from 26 including eight maidens) and Nanopoulos (1/39 from 21 including 10 maidens) were all at their best, finding the right spots and often asking the questions of the batsman and the umpire, hitting the pads and beating the bats of the Camberwell batsmen for most of the day without the heavy rewards.
Dandenong’s bowlers were impressive in their attempt to restrict runs and strangle Camberwell at times, Cassidy and Nanopoulos lead from the way with tight bowling on a difficult deck, a part of the day that pleased Panther captain Tom Donnell.
“I didn’t really know what to do, I was happy to lose the toss to be honest,” he said.
“The wicket looked alright, I wasn’t sure how it was going to play, it was too bad, I wasn’t too disappointed to bowl and the bowlers did a good job.
“The wicket seemed a bit difficult at times to bat on.
“We had them about 5/90 so the game could have gone either way there, they batted well and kept us out of the wickets, I thought we bowled tightly.
“The outfield was pretty fast and not great to field on, but I think our bowling and their mindset to defend and keep their wicket intact lead to the day’s cricket I suppose.
“You know what you are going to get from them (Cassidy and Nanopoulos) each week.
“They are extremely hard to get away, they know when to attack and when to hold back and defend.
“They did a great job without getting a heap of reward in the wickets column.”
Every bowler in the competition knows how damaging the opening pair of Donnell and his good mate Brett Forsyth is at the top, and after an interrupted start to the year, the pair has put on back-to-back 50 run opening stands without either of them going on to reach the big score.
With the day to bat this week and a big total ahead of them, Donnell hopes it is this week that he, Forsyth or any one of his men can fire at the top of the order.
“I hope so, it has been a bit of an indifferent start,” he said.
“I missed a few games and the wicket at Shepley has been difficult to bat on, no one has seemed to post that big 100.
“That is what we will be looking for this weekend, is someone to anchor the innings, bat through and get a big 100 for us.
“Really looking forward to that, hoping it is one of our top order, but the majority of the day and get us over the line.
“I definitely feel that someone is not far off breaking it open and putting in a good performance for us and hopefully it is this weekend.”