By Nick Creely
Now that’s a statement.
Springvale South’s electric form continued in the Dandenong District’s Turf 1 grade on Saturday, with the Bloods putting in a mighty performance against a fellow finals aspirant, Narre South.
And on the Lions’ home deck, too, making it all the more impressive.
The Bloods haven’t dropped a game since the opening round against Berwick, and continue to play like a side hell-bent on going a step further, and one that is still being driven by the disappointments of the previous two seasons despite a glittering of new faces throughout the side.
On a tricky deck, Bloods skipper Ateeq Javid elected to bat in the one-day clash, but the overseas pro was, in a rare sight, quickly back in the sheds courtesy of seamer Tim Phillips (2/26).
As per usual, the aggressive Nathan King (46) took to the Lions’ new-ball bowlers, but the Lions found regular breakthroughs, removing King, and classy middle-order pair Ryan Quirk (20) and Akshay Ballal (29) for starts.
In-form Lions all-rounder, Morteza Ali’s (3/26) dynamic spell helped tear through the Bloods’ middle order, but a crucial knock from Tim Ford (25 not out) helped lift the visitors to 9/160 off its 40 overs, setting up an intriguing chase.
Little did the players, and the spectators know at the time, but Ford would carry his momentum with the bat into a match-winning bowling spell, and one of the performances of the season to date.
Tearing through the Lions’ top and middle orders featuring handy names such as Morteza Ali, Scott Phillips, Jonty Jenner, Ashan Wijayakumara and Matthew Brooks, Ford took the first six wickets of the chase, leaving the home side in a world of hurt at 6/42.
With eight overs of immense pressure from Ford producing 6/19, the damage was well and truly done, with the Lions rolling over for 60, with left-arm tweaker Jarryd Straker (3/10) finishing things off for the Bloods.
The Bloods sit atop the Turf 1 ladder by a whopping nine points, with an away clash against St Mary’s to come this Saturday.
In another statement down at Frawley Road, Hallam Kalora Park pipped the powerful Buckley Ridges in a final-ball thriller by just one-run to keep its finals hopes well and truly alive.
Sitting down the pack and needing a few majors scalps along the way to stay in touch, the Hawks produced arguably its finest performance in a couple of seasons, digging deep despite David White once again dominating proceedings with the bat.
Using the size of the ground to its advantage, the Hawks never allowed the Bucks to settle after winning the toss and batting, with the experience of Leigh Booth (30), Ryan Hillard (46), Jagveer Hayer (54) and skipper Ben Hillard (21) knocking the ball around in a powerful start.
With just 10 boundaries scored between the important four for the Hawks, running between the wickets became crucial against the pace of Jerome Jones (1/39), Adrian Neill (2/37) and Daniel Watson (1/26), while the home side targeted medium pacer Greg Todd.
Kevin Kean (35 off 24 balls) ensured the Hawks would set an imposing chase for the champion Bucks, reaching 5/214 off its 40 overs.
The Hawks got off the perfect start with the ball, removing Daniel Watson in the opening overs, but the opposition headache that is David White continued to cause issues.
The Bucks skipper – playing a more tempered innings than has been customary in his time in the association – anchored the chase despite a steady flow of wickets falling through the middle.
White – coming off consecutive scores of 80 and 95, as well as a 99 two games prior – once again loomed as the key, joining forces with all-rounder Jerome Jones at 5/138, and with a half-century already to his name.
The pair slammed on 64 runs, with White finally breaking through for his first century of the season, in another dominant performance for the South African.
But on 101, seamer Chris Pereira (2/44) broke through in a crucial double strike, with White holing out to the deep, before Suren Ekanayake fell first ball and giving the Hawks the upper hand with an over to spare.
In a tense final over, bowled by the reliable Leigh Booth (2/41), the Bucks found bat on ball to bring it down to a simple equation off the final ball: two to win, and one to draw, with Matthew Goodwright on strike.
But nailing the perfect yorker, sending the stumps flying, Booth found a way to snare a wicket and claim a famous win, and one that leaves them with a sniff at finals cricket.
A match-winning effort from star all-rounder Ruwantha Kellepotha, meanwhile, saw Berwick recover in time to post a win against Heinz Southern Districts at Arch Brown Reserve.
After the Cobras elected to bat, the Bears were once again impressive with the ball, restricting the visitors to just 9/133 off its 40 overs, with skipper Kaushalya Weeraratne the lone hand with a stylish 47.
But the leggies of Kellepotha were vital for the home side, snaring 3/26 from his six overs and providing crucial breakthroughs at the back-end of the innings.
With a small target to race down, the Bears got off to a rocky start, sitting 4/57 with skipper Matthew Chasemore and keeper batsman Jordan Cleland back in the sheds.
Kellepotha (58 not out) proved the key through the middle, with the Bears falling to 6/98, using aggression and excellent stroke making to guide the home side to victory with six overs to spare.
Chandima Abeykoon (3/26) was the pick of the bowlers in an encouraging display from the visitors.
In the final match of the round, St Mary’s (7/180) knocked off North Dandenong (9/179) in another thriller, with Rob Peat starring with 51 not out and 3/32.
TURF 1 LADDER
|Hallam Kalora Park|
|Heinz Southern Dist|
THE ROLLING TURF 1 TEAM OF THE YEAR
|Ateeq Javid (capt)||Springvale South|
|Morteza Ali||Narre South|
|David White||Buckley Ridges|
|Jordan Cleland (wk)||Berwick|
|Jerome Jones||Buckley Ridges|
|Akshay Ballal||Springvale South|
|Jarryd Straker||Springvale South|