By Jonty Ralphsmith and Marcus Uhe
DDCA sides put away their whites in favour of coloured clothing on Sunday in the return of the annual T20 competition.
The 24 teams were divided into eight groups of three in a massive Sunday of matches across eight venues.
Reigning champions Berwick finished the round-robin series at the top of the table having drawn Turf 3 sides Coomoora and Doveton in its group, and displayed the gulf in quality between the divisions with two massive wins.
The performances of Berwick Springs and Fountain Gate saw both teams progress in a nod to the evenness of the competition.
The Titans and Gators both backed their listed talent, proving they could match it with Turf 1 and 2 sides to win their way through.
The eight teams that qualified for the next round comprised of five Turf 1 sides, two from Turf 3 and one from Turf 2; (In order of net run rate) Berwick, Heinz Southern Districts, Springvale South, North Dandenong, Fountain Gate, Narre South, Berwick Springs, St Mary’s.
Group One: Springvale South, Buckley Ridges, Parkfield
Unsurprisingly it was the final clash of the day between Springvale South and Buckley Ridges that determined who progressed, with the Bloods prevailing by seven wickets.
Both sides easily accounted for Parkfield in the earlier fixtures to set up yet another clash between the rivals with plenty at stake.
It was the Bloods bowlers who got the job done at home, bowling Buckley Ridges out for 115 in the final over.
Ben Wright played a lone hand for Buckley Ridges with 43 off 19 while Springvale South opening bowling pair Jarryd Straker and Josh Dowling put the clamps on early, with Straker even bowling a maiden.
Bloods marquee Dale Tormey backed-up his half-century in the first contest against Parkfield with 48 in the second as the Bloods’ top scorer.
Michael Davies took 3/36 for Buckley Ridges.
Group Two: Narre Warren, Fountain Gate, Lynbrook
Fountain Gate has progressed to the quarterfinals with wins over Narre Warren and Lynbrook.
Chanaka ‘Ted’ Sampath led from the front in the first match against Narre Warren, with a positive 45 to help the Gators to 127, before keeping it tight, opening the bowling with his tweakers.
Hasindu Waduge and Rodini Kumara got breakthroughs at important junctures to prevent Narre from ever hitting the accelerator in a tense 10-run Fountain Gate win.
In the second game against Lynbrook, it was Waduge who did the damage at the top of the order with a quickfire 82 that contained five sixes and four fours to help Fountain Gate reach 6/165.
Kumara and president Justin Smith combined for seven wickets, Lynbrook never looking threatening, ultimately bowled out for 83.
Narre Warren edged Lynbrook by 13 runs in the third game despite a strong opening stand between Jatt Singh and Jay Walia.
Group Three: St Mary’s, Lyndale, Hallam Kalora Park
St Mary’s put their awful start to the Turf 1 season behind them by advancing from their group with two wins.
Lyndale’s upset of a Hallam Kalora Park side missing its first-choice bowling attack opened the door for St Mary’s to progress, with the Hawks rolled for just 58 in the opening game.
The Saints then defended 97 against Lyndale, but Lyndale’s big win over Hallam Kalora Park meant the Saints had to defeat the Hawks in the final game to progress, due to Lyndale’s net run rate.
Saveen Nanayakkara and Safaras Moahomad scored the bulk of the Saints’ runs, setting 135 batting first.
Deeshan Umagiliyage then offered an excellent performance with the ball, taking 4/23 as his side kept the Hawks to 8/115.
Matthew Cox and Tom Smith put on 69 for the fourth wicket but did not receive enough auxiliary support.
Group Four: Berwick Springs, Parkmore, Beaconsfield
Turf 3 side Berwick Springs have sensationally edged out Turf 2 club Parkmore and Turf 1 outfit Beaconsfield to progress to the quarter-finals.
Youngster Seth Lindsay set the tone in the first match with 5/26 off four to tear apart the Beacy batting order and skittle them for 99, before Riley Hillman anchored the chase in a four-wicket win.
Against Parkmore, playing-coach Shalika Karunanayake played his best knock for the club so far, an unbeaten 66 guiding Berwick Springs to a comfortable seven-wicket win after Amal Athulathmudali’s 78 helped his time go at exactly seven an over for their 20.
The last match was a dead-rubber, which saw Mitch Tielen (3/13) take two wickets in the first two balls of Parkmore’s innings to help Beaconsfield defend 135.
Group Five: Doveton North, Dandenong North, Keysborough
There was just one match at Power Reserve, with Keysborough forfeiting both its matches, North Dandenong’s afternoon seven-wicket win against Doveton North seeing it through to the quarterfinals.
Mohammed Khalil took 4/16 after the Lions struggled to get Dandenong North away early, ultimately bowled out for 74 in the 18th over.
North Dandenong reached the target in 12 overs, led by opener Syed Akbar Shah’s unbeaten 47.
Group six: Dandenong West, Silverton, Narre South
A Jeevan Mendis hat-trick, when his Narre South needed it the most, ended Silverton’s hopes of a miraculous upset and shock advancement.
Dandenong West was thrashed by Silverton and fell short in its monster chase of 184 against the Lions, making the final contest of the afternoon winner-takes-all.
Wicketkeeper batter Riley McDonald ensured Narre South got to 8/135 after a disappointing performance from the top order, Mandeep Premi taking 3/24 for the Bakers.
Silverton was on track to sneak out, reaching 0/63 in the eighth over before Mendis worked his magic, removing Mandeep Premi, Varinder Virk and Davandeep Premi in successive deliveries to claw back momentum.
He finished his spell of four overs with 3/10, including two maidens.
Mathew Wall hit 75 off 57 for the Bakers but Mandeep Premi was the only other batter to reach double figures as they fell 12 runs short.
Group seven: Coomoora, Doveton, Berwick
A monster first innings total from Berwick in the deciding game of the group against Coomoora eschewed any doubts over the Bears’ progression to the second round.
With both sides on one win apiece, Berwick blasted 6/187 on the back of Matthew Robertson’s 80 from 36 balls.
The ‘Roos never got close, losing 5/16 in the middle order before being dismissed for 85.
Corey Bevan took 4/9 in the defence.
In a tough day for Doveton, their combined losing margin across the two games was 243 runs.
Coomoora defeated Doveton by 73 runs in the group’s opening game before Berwick cashed-in during Doveton’s second, on the back of a century to English opener Matthew Hague.
Defending 237, Berwick kept Doveton to 9/67.
Group Eight: HSD, Hampton Park, Cranbourne
Heinz Southern Districts claimed two comfortable victories to ease to the quarterfinals.
HSD bowled Hampton Park out for just 26 in the first match as spinners Omair Rana and Jordan Margenberg and Ryan Patterson led the way in a 10-wicket win.
Batting first against Cranbourne, marquee player Jacob Hinds, from Vic Premier club Richmond, set the tone with four early boundaries and took three wickets to help HSD win by 84 runs after reaching 8/151.
*Group numbers are not official or assigned by the DDCA but were included in this story to simplify the information.