By Marcus Uhe
Eight runs stood between Dandenong and its second win of the Victorian Premier Cricket season at the close of play on Sunday evening after the Panthers failed to chase Fitzroy-Doncaster’s total at Shepley Oval.
On a rain-affected Saturday, the Lions made 7/240 batting first and kept Dandenong to 8/233 in its chase, with the clock running out on the Panthers’ pursuit on Sunday evening.
Play began slightly later than originally scheduled at Shepley Oval thanks to a sudden burst of rain on Saturday morning.
Noah Hurley struck in the third over of the day and the Panthers took wickets in clumps, but two key partnerships guided the Lions to the total.
Zachary Elliott and Fletcha Middleton added 98 for the second wicket before Sam Newell and Joshua Sawrey combined to bring the stand to a close, while Victorian representative and son of Australian Test Cricketer Matthew Elliott, Sam Elliott, put on 60 with Liam Smith for the fifth wicket.
Sam Elliott was the rock the middle order needed, finishing unbeaten on 59 while wickets fell around him.
It was a busy day for Noah Hurley in the field, taking two wickets to lead the bowling pack, and snaffling the catch of Liam Banthorpe.
Matthew Wilson, Vishwa Ramkumar and Gehan Seneviratne took one wicket each while Sawrey went wicketless.
In reply, losing Andrey Fernando on the opening ball of the innings was the worst possible start for Dandenong, immediately under the pump in the pursuit.
Thankfully for the hosts, there was Brett Forsyth at the other end to keep the innings together.
The captain had five partners on Sunday and built 50 and 70 run partnerships with Dhanusha Gamage and Max Marinic respectively, but his score of 76 was a lone hand in a scorecard of starts.
2/122 became 7/184 as the middle order failed to provide the required resistance in the face of prowling Lions.
Seneviratne and Ramkumar’s 45-run stand for the eighth wicket breathed life back into the contest for a potential win, but it wasn’t enough to pull off a heist, the Panthers consigned to a second-straight loss.
A shift in mindset will be required in the lead up to the Christmas break, as the competition enters into a block of limited overs cricket from next week.
The Panthers will don the navy blue once again when they head to Footscray on Saturday for a one-day contest.