Close, but not close enough

Sam Newell impressed on Saturday with 49. Picture: TYLER LEWIS

By Tyler Lewis

Saturday’s season opener for Dandenong’s Men’s side was a simple case of ‘so close, yet so far’.

The Panthers won the toss on what appeared to be a dry wicket and opted to bat; despite the top five all reaching double figures and facing 25 balls or more, the home side couldn’t get a batter to go on with their start to post a demanding total.

And to Camberwell’s credit, it seemed whenever the Dandenong unit appeared to build a partnership, the Magpies would send a set bat on his way to the pavilion.

Former skipper Tom Donnell (40) loomed as the key early with his trademark square of the wicket game on show against Pies debutant Tom Nelson, but it was ultimately his strength that led to his undoing, skying a similar stroke off the bowling of Chris Bridle.

Panthers recruit Sam Newell sent a shiver through his new side when he played an ambitious drive second ball, but he recovered to steer Dandenong to a competitive total.

Newell’s 49 – which included two maximums to the shorter boundary – came at a crucial time for the Panthers, as it seemed a couple of quick wickets would leave the home side posting a bleak 130.

The left-hander fell one run from a half-century on debut, skying a ball in the late stages of the innings.

In reply of Dandenong’s 7/189, Camberwell got off to a steady start, with both openers Ben Rowles (36 from 54) and Rishab Guddadamane (24 off 42) getting starts.

The Pies got to 58 without losing a wicket, before the innings begun to resemble that of the Panthers first innings, with regular wickets proving the undoing of the travelling side.

Despite the phenomenal bowling performances from the new faces of this Dandenong attack: Braden Tauber (1/27 off nine) and Gehan Seneviratne (1/22 off ten), the Panthers were unable to restrict Camberwell chasing down its total.

The Pies were made to work in reply, reaching the target with just three wickets in the shed and only eight balls to spare.

While many things could’ve gone a different way with the ball for the Panthers, it appeared the difference between the two sides was Magpies middle order batter Hamish Burrill being able to cash in on a start, finishing with 55 not out.

Despite going into the game as favourites and not coming away with the win, new skipper Brett Forsyth will take an array of positives out of the match, particularly the performances of Newell and Seneviratne.

Dandenong will play back-to-back games at Shepley Oval, this time hosting Footscray, a side that it has had a lot of luck with in the past chasing down sensational totals.