By Tyler Lewis and Nick Creely
Dingley sent a spear through Beaconsfield, in the form of elegant right-handed batsman Luke.
The Dingoes were sent in by the Tigers in the Dandenong District Turf 2 semi-final and were in a balanced position early at 2/45, before Luke Spears and Corey Booth joined in the middle for a match-winning 231 run partnership.
Booth notched 100, a more accumulated knock then Spears, with only the three boundaries and one maximum.
Spears on the other hand, blasted them to all parts, smacking 16 fours and three sixes on his way to 151 off just 172 balls – striking at 88.
The Dingoes were incredulous in their ability to rotate the strike, of the 80 overs where they belted 6/352; only seven overs were a set of six dot balls.
In reply, Beaconsfield lost consistent wickets in an attempt to reel in the monster target, falling for 138.
Spearhead Milan Rathnayaka was the pick of the Dingo bowlers, jagging 3/38 from his 14.4; he is proving to be a thorn in the Tigers roses, also claiming 5/15 against the yellow and black last game.
When a side sets 352, it is easy to assume the wicket was an absolute road; but Dingley centurion Luke Spears said it had its moments where it wasn’t easy to bat on.
“It certainly wasn’t a bad pitch, getting 350 for the day, you can’t blame the pitch,” he told Star News Group.
“But there was something in it for both the bowlers and the batsmen.
“I thought ‘Haggy’ (Matt Hague) and ‘Tommy’ (Tom Morecroft) did a decent job at the start but lost their way around 10 and 20, going out there we had a plan to get through to tea, and try and be no more than two or three down.
“We know that batting at the Souter Oval after tea is always a good place to be.
“To be honest, they bowled well before tea, they bowled with a plan, used the pitch to advantage.”
It was Spears’ first triple-figure score for the Dingoes in his short tenure, but he still feels it was a long drought while chuffed to have brought up the milestone in finals.
“It has been a while coming, about time,” he said.
“With how the innings played out and us accelerating after tea, I didn’t know I was as close as I was – that probably helped, that I wasn’t thinking too much, trying to hit every ball on its merit.
“There is definitely the pressure of scoring runs in finals, it is all well and good scoring runs in the season but finals are when it really matters.
“(It was) good to get the monkey off the back with the first century.”
It is often easy for a batsman to get to 100 before throwing it away; while the number from 50 to 100 are the same as 100 to 150, the mental edge to go on with it is a massive game changer, but it was something Spears knew had to be done.
“You get to your 100, you are very happy, very relieved; but I was aware there was a lot more runs out there,” he said.
“We had wickets in hand, we were only two down because ‘Boothy’ played a cracking knock as well, that helps.
“It is difficult; you can never completely refresh and say you’re on zero.
“But it was important to build on that and realise you can drive home an insurmountable target, you don’t want to leave it on 250 if you get to 350 that was great.
“I think just after 50, I got 50 straight after tea – I hit a couple of shots that came off and went for six, I think at that point I thought ‘alright the only person that is going to get me out is myself here’, which I do fairly often, it was a case of concentrating.
“They have good bowlers, ones that can get you out but the pitch was flattening out and the ball was old, I thought ‘this is a chance to cash in and make a big one’.”
In the other semi-final, the Parkmore Pirates stormed into the big dance with a commanding win over Dandenong West.
The Pirates sent in the Bulls and had the rewards early on, bundling Dandenong West out for just 59.
Niranjen Kumar had the ball on a string, collecting 6/25, while Amal Athulathmudali (4/31) grabbed the rest.
Early wickets were always going to be crucial for the Westers, despite reaching near the half-way mark of the chase, they claimed two Pirates batsmen in quick succession – bringing them back to 2/19.
But the hope of a late collapse was quickly scintillated by Athulathmudali who charged out at number four and capped of a cracking all-round match.
He crunched 104 that included eight fours and four sixes as his side posted 5/184, making it a comfortable win and setting up a mouth-watering contest in the grand final between the Pirates and the Dingoes, to be played at North Dandenong’s Lois Twohig Reserve this Saturday and Sunday.
Well that was a close one for Parkfield.
But the Turf 3 ladder leaders and the benchmark side of the 2019/20 season have surged into the grand final this weekend with an incredibly thrilling victory against a brave Springvale unit.
Batting proved a difficult task on the Parkfield Reserve deck over two days of absorbing semi-final cricket, with its fair share of twists and turns leaving the game genuinely in the balance from the outset.
The home side loss the toss and were sent in by Dees skipper Scott Lindsay, and boy did it prove a challenge for the batters to find any momentum.
After two early wickets – one courtesy of an untimely run-out – the Parkers managed to occupy the crease somewhat, but couldn’t get it on the scoreboard as the visitors bowled relentless lines to bowl the home team out for just 109, in 78.3 overs.
There was plenty to like for the Demons, with Sachintha Rajapakse (3/26) sending down 22 overs of pressure-filled lines, while Harmandip Sahota (4/24) was equally as destructive in his 21 overs. Seamer Randeep Sahota (2/30) was equally as impressive, particularly with the new-ball.
But the Parkers were not to be outdone in an incredible spectacle on day two.
With no second chances, the home side – in particular star Nicholas Jeffery (6/25), who produced an incredible performance with the ball – starred down the barrel of a loss but rallied to roll the Demons for just 104 – painfully just six runs from victory and a spot in the grand final.
There was just as much drama at Fotheringham Reserve between Silveton and Lynbrook with the final result not sealed until late on Monday afternoon.
With both Saturday and Sunday washed out due to the ground conditions after a heavy downfall in the latter part of the week, it all came down to the spare day – the Monday public holiday, which was played in two-day conditions.
Needing to just salvage a draw – or a win – in the 80 overs, the Bakers were always going to be extremely hard to topple, but the Lakers were brave, and fell down fighting.
Winning the toss and batting, the Bakers were always looking to simply bat out the overs, but the Lakers rallied hard despite a brilliant 91 from Luke Rhodes, rolling the home side for 160 in 59 overs.
Indunil Wickramasinghe (4/74) took a star turn with the ball after playing as a batsman all season, while Jesse Walia (3/44) also closed out his strong season impressively.
With an equation of 161 runs to win in just 19 overs, the Lakers went hard but ultimately couldn’t quite find the runs at a rapid rate, rolled for 84 in the 16th over.
Wicket machine Selva Tharaka (4/19) was the chief destroyer for the grand final bound Bakers.
It now sets up a fascinating grand final between Parkfield and Silverton this weekend at Keysborough’s Rowley Allan Reserve.