By Nick Creely
Michael Vandort arrived at Beaconsfield this off-season as one of the most important signings in the club’s history.
The ex-Sri Lankan Test player – who has also had DDCA stints with Parkdale and Springvale South – certainly comes with some added expectation.
And on Saturday in round two of the DDCA’s Turf 2 competition, the stylish left-hander cracked 116 for his new club as the Tigers smashed Narre North in its first home game of the season at Perc Allison Oval.
It was a typically classy knock from the opener, who carried his bat through the innings as the Tigers piled on the pain, racking up 4/245 from its 45 overs.
After failing to get going in the opening round, Vandort pasted the ball to all parts, and combined well with fellow recruit Tyler Clark (33) and keeper batsman Michael Dunstan (46) in an impressive display considering the disappointing start to the season the week prior to Dandenong West.
It took another dominant showing from one of the Tigers’ prominent players with the ball to then ensure the visitors were unable to reel in the total, with seamer Callan Tout (6/12) absolutely rattling the opposition in a dominant display.
Tout’s had a prolific few seasons with the ball, snaring 36 wickets in 2018/19 before another strong 25-wicket season last year, but looks to have again gone to another level.
With Brad Miles (2/22) also contributing well with the ball, Tout’s dominance saw the visitors rolled for just 94, but managed to fight it out for 40 overs.
Cranbourne’s impressive start to the Turf 2 season continued, meanwhile, with the Eagles bowling superbly at home against Lyndale.
The Eagles perhaps posted a modest 139 after winning the toss and batting, but opener Craig Hookey was vital, carrying the bat and striking a gritty 58.
The visitors were able to take regular breakthroughs in the first innings, and Chanaka Wijewardena (4/16) was the pick of the bowlers.
With a smallish total to defend, the Eagles were disciplined, led superbly by the incredibly consistent spin of Pete Sweeney, who took 3/6 from 12 overs, including eight maidens.
Combined with solid performances from Martin Kelly (2/11), Tim Fathers (2/34) and Cam Kelly (1/21) the visitors were restricted to just 9/103 after their 45 overs as the Eagles moved to 2-0 after the opening two rounds.
Wachter Reserve was home to an absolute thriller with Parkmore Pirates and Dandenong West playing out a tie.
After being sent in, the Pirates clawed its way to 150 with Johann Brohier (58) leading the way from the top, while Mohomad Safras struck a vital 27.
But it was largely a strong performance yet again with the ball from the Westers, with veteran Peter Atkinson (4/38) and Gurpreet Singh (3/32) once again causing problems for the opposition.
Despite a blistering start from Greg Siwes (30), the Westers lost regular wickets at the top with skipper Ashwin Nash (4/31) doing plenty of damage, including removing opposing captain Anthony Brannan, and Siwes.
At 6/75, it appeared the Pirates had done enough to win, but Gurpreet Singh backed up his dominance with the ball to strike an eye-catching 52 from 40 balls, smashing two sixes in the knock and sending the game down to the wire.
But with scores level and just one wicket left, Noman Khan was run-out, and the points shared in an early-season thriller.
In the remaining match, Narre Warren (189) has made it two from two with a gritty win against Parkfield (169) at home.
After a strong first innings total off the back of Brandon Tyzzer (49) and Ben Swift (54), the visitors fell just 20 runs short, with leggie Cam Dinger (3/29) taking some vital wickets.
In Turf 3, runs flowed down at Coomoora, but Springvale got the points against the Roos.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat, and it was a wise decision as they racked up 4/231 off 40 overs, with gun batsman Nasrat Malikzada (89 not out), Hasindu Waduge (57) and Nuwan Mendis (52) feasting on the opposition.
It was a gallant chase from the Roos, but ultimately fell short, finishing 9/202 off its 40 overs.
Keysborough’s bright start to the season continued down at Robinson Reserve, with the Knights holding off Doveton.
A familiar name led the way for the home side, with St Kilda AFL star Josh Battle making an appearance for his home club, and struck 46 to guide the team to 117.
But it was a solid bowling performance from the Knights, with Abhinay Motupalli (4/18) proving hard to handle, while Hennadige Fernando (2/13) was once again excellent.
The Doves made it hard for the Knights in reply – largely through skipper Ryan Hendy (3/21) – but the Knights found the runs through skipper Jackson O’Brien (42) and recruit Christo Otto (38) with three wickets left to spare.
Fountain Gate, meanwhile, continue to be an early-season pacesetter, in a dominant performance against Silverton.
With Shammi Dissanayake (3/10) and Jahanzeb Mirranay (2/25) in fine form, the Gators rolled the Bakers for just 93.
Despite a wobble, Jahanzeb Mirranay (42 not out) guided the Gators home with five wickets still left in the shed.
In the remaining Turf 3 match, Berwick Springs snared its first win against the season against a highly-fancied Lynbrook.
The Lakers batted first, compiling 133 with skipper Shane D’Rozario leading the way with 24, but Nick Shannon (3/26) and Jake Whiting (3/21) were excellent for the home side.
The Titans – through a half-century to Josh Amsterdam (53) and a solid knock from Luke Kerford (34) made hard work of it as D’Rozario (4/39) found plenty of wickets – but got the points with two wickets left in the shed.