By Tyler Lewis
Dandenong have continued its slow start to the season, suffering a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of a classy Footscray side.
The Panthers were sent in and were coasting along at a good rate with stalwarts Brett Forsyth (23) and Tom Donnell (21) at the crease, before a collection of steady wickets shifted the home side from 0/39, to 5/81.
While gloveman Sam Newell (21) threatened to be the saviour once again, it was twin-all-rounders Aaron Fernando (30) and more specifically Gehan Seneviratne (44 not out from 37 balls) who pushed the Panthers to a competitive 8/185.
Un-ironically for the Dandenong outfit, the batting innings appeared to be a carbon copy from the week before, where the Panthers posted 7/189.
Young Footscray opener Dylan Brasher got away to a flying start with 26 from 12 balls, a cameo that seems faint on paper, but one that released the early run rate required valve.
The Panthers etched themselves back into the contest with the wickets of both openers, leaving the Dogs 2/31.
But it was the next stand the Dandenong side couldn’t break until it was too late, with the in-form Travis Dean (51 from 100) and the ever-reliable Dean Russ (79 not out from 116) combining for a crucial 109 run – match-winning – partnership.
Footscray wicket-keeper Dylan Kight joined Russ in the middle – after Tom Donnell dismissed Dean – to finish the job, nudging an unbeaten 21 from 34 balls.
The Dogs passed the total in the 45th over with seven wickets in the shed.
Despite a difficult fortnight of cricket for the Panthers, leg-spinning all-rounder Gehan Seneviratne has been a shining light.
In the opening game, Seneviratne crunched 19 not out and claimed 1/22 from his ten overs and in the second match he finished with 44 not out with the bat and 0/34 from his ten overs with the ball.
In fact, of all the players to have bowled the maximum overs across the competition, Seneviratne has the best economy (2.60) of all of them.
And it’s been a strong fortnight that has his skipper Brett Forsyth calling for an opportunity at a higher-level.
“He has clearly been our best player the last couple of games,” he said.
“Scoring runs, playing with freedom, hitting them well and running well between the wickets, but yeah, his leg-spin has been incredible.
“He’s bowled extremely well and without luck.
“I would hope to think he is in the thoughts for playing some Second XI cricket (for Victoria), because he has worked hard at Premier level.
“And if he keeps on the trajectory he is on at the moment, I don’t think there is too many better leg-spinners going around.
“He is just finding his feet at Premier level, but he extremely determined and skilful; we are really confident with his trajectory and where he is going.
“If he keeps bowling the way he is, I would like to see some state selectors having a look at him, he’s troubled some really good batters in the last couple of weeks.
“Everything you want from a leg-spinner, he’s got. Control, variation, competitiveness and he is a really good fielder and a batter as well.
“I know they (Victoria Second XI) have picked a leg-spinner, but it would be nice to get some people out to watch Gehan, because from our point of view – he is that good.”
After two matches on its home deck, the Panthers will travel to Frankston to take on the Heat and their old friend – new Heat skipper – James Nanopoulos.