By Nick Creely


It’s common knowledge in Premier Cricket circles that breaking up Dandenong opening duo Tom Donnell and Brett Forsyth can win or lose a game of cricket – except no one seems to know how to do it before it’s too late.
And on Saturday at Shepley Oval in Round 6 action, Kingston Hawthorn found out the hard way, with the duo compiling their 14th century stand as an opening combination to guide the Panthers to a comfortable four-wicket win.
Winning the toss and batting, the Hawks got off to a swift start courtesy of aggressive openers Ramneet Dhindsa (45) and the stylish Shorye Chopra (27), reaching 56 before medium pacer Peter Cassidy (3/27) forced Chopra into an errant shot that was swallowed at mid-on by overseas recruit Steve Mullaney, playing his first game for the club this year.
Cassidy broke through twice more in consecutive balls – after the visitors steadied – to shatter the stumps of Dhindsa and catch the edge of Ryan Ninan (0), leaving the Hawks 3/101 at the halfway mark.
Some outstanding power hitting and timing from Jack Taylor (61 from 45 balls) got the Hawks into a strong position for a formidable total, before Mullaney (4/53) crafted four wickets with his class despite copping some flack early to help peg back the visitors.
Despite seemingly having momentum, the Hawks managed 8/234 off their 50 overs – perhaps 30 runs short considering the form of the home side with the bat, and in particular, Donnell and Forsyth.
As they have done for the best part of a decade, Donnell (63) and Forsyth (74) combined class with brute striking power to carve their way to 126 runs for the first wicket, squarely putting the game in the Panthers’ court with textbook limited overs batting.
Although the Hawks regained some momentum by picking up the scalps of Donnell, stumped by spinner Yaisru Herath (3/42), Forsyth and then Mullaney (3), the damage was well and truly done by the legendary pair.
The Panthers found the runs with ease, with James Nanopoulos (24 not out) and Jacques Augustin (4 not out) guiding the home side to victory with one over to spare.
The win leaves the Panthers entrenched into the top two with a 5-1 record, with the Twenty20 portion of the season to begin on Saturday against Melbourne.
Meanwhile, down at AH Butler Oval, Casey-South Melbourne put in a more competitive showing, but fell 45 runs short of its first victory of the season against Frankston Peninsula.
The Heat elected to bat on a ripping batting deck, and although a patient Tom Wood (84) anchored the home side to a solid 8/225 off 50 overs, the Swans bowled with great intent.
Nathan Lambden (2/33) and Brendan Rose (2/43) had their tails up early, snaring the early scalps of Gordon Waterfall (4) brilliantly caught at slip by Jordan Wyatt and dangerous batsman Liam Tonkin caught behind, leaving the Heat at 2/23.
A top notch spell by left armer Jackson Fry (2/27) had the home side in need of a partnership at 4/94, but a quick fire 32 by Brodie Symons and a crafty 35 by skipper Dale Elmi saw the Heat score 20 or 30 more runs than the Swans would have liked.
Although Ryan Eaton (59) put in a terrific display of counter attacking cricket, the Swans were bowled out for 170, with Heat bowlers Jake Wood (4/45) and Ben Ashkenazi (3/28) putting on a clinic with genuine pace bowling.
The Swans sit last on the Premier ladder, but coach Prabath Nissanka was pleased with elements of his side’s game.
“The best part was the bowling, and Ryan (Eaton) also did well with the bat and is scoring runs which is good for us,” he said.
“The three boys (Jackson Fry, Nathan Lambden and Brendan Rose) bowled really well, and hit the right areas so there’s a lot of positives on the bowling side of things.”
With the Twenty20s to begin on Saturday, and the Swans to face Carlton and then Greenvale on the weekend, Nissanka said he will tinker his side with the prognosis of skipper Lachie Sperling’s shoulder injury still an unknown.
“There will be a few changes to get more aggressive players into the side – (Joel Mitchell) is very much in contention, he’s batting well at the moment,” he said.
“He (Sperling) will get advice from his physio, so I’m not really sure at the moment what his condition is – if he’s fit to play, he will play.”
While struggling to perform in the short term in the ones, Nissanka said that a host of youngsters within the club will eventually propel the club back up the top.
“The best part of this season is a lot of youngsters bowling well – young Jonah Serong is doing well, and from the seconds another 16-year-old, Ash Chandrasinghe, is playing well for us,” he said.
“Jacob Long scored a century the other week, James Long scored a fifty on the weekend in the twos, so these young cricketers are performing well, and long term it will benefit us as a club.”
Twin centuries to Western Park batsmen Matthew Wakefield (125) and Sanjaya Gangodawila (134 not out) capped off a memorable day of cricket at Logan Park, with the Warriors thumping Yarragon in ominous fashion on Saturday.
After the Panthers set the Warriors a modest 166 for victory, Joel Batson (52) and Tyler McMillan (44) combined for 66 runs at the top, before Wakefield and Gangodawila went berserk, combining for 26 fours and 11 sixes, to not only surpass the Panthers’ total one wicket down, but continue on to guide the total to 5/403 by the end of the day.
Gamini Kumara (1/56 off 20 overs) was the pick of the bowling group in what was a tough day for the Panthers in the field.
Meanwhile, Hallora chased down Buln Buln’s 5/210 from day one, with Kangaroos batsmen Aidan Phillips (60) and Ryan Williams (55) seeing the home side to 9/251 by day’s end, while Drouin made 267 off the back of Damon Healy (96) and Sam Wyatt (60) to comfortably surpass Ellinbank’s 121.
Longwarry had the bye.
Young English import Harry Johnson struck his first Subbies century for Endeavour Hills on Saturday, with the wicketkeeper batsman – who is a part of Warwickshire’s County Academy – blasting 160 and putting the Tigers in the frame for its first win of the season against Box Hill.
After winning the toss and batting, Johnson came in at 2/19, and played the conditions beautifully; anchoring the innings and using his vast stroke play to carve the ball to all parts of City Oval.
Johnston was eventually dismissed with the score at 261, but the Eagles lost two quick wickets at the end to finish on 262 off 77 overs.
Meanwhile, down at E.E Gunn Reserve, the clash between Ormond and Noble Park is well poised after day one.
After being sent in to bat, the Monders – off the back of in form skipper James Wild (74) – posted 188 after a shaky start to the day.
In reply, the Parkers are 1/31 at stumps, with star all-rounder Isi Perera back in the sheds after being dismissed for just three.
After a tough opening month to the 2017/18 season, Dandenong finally broke through for its first win of the season, defeating last placed Plenty Valley on Sunday by four wickets.
Winning the toss and batting, Bats’ skipper Meagan Ciaverella (41) continued her strong start to the season by top scoring, and combined with a strong hand at the top by Rhiann O’Donnell (37), guided the home side to a competitive 174 off 47.2 overs.
Panthers skipper Sophie Molienux (3/21) starred with the ball, taking vital wickets when the Bats threatened to skip away with the bat.
Despite the early scalp of Joanne van der Veen for a duck, a host of chip in efforts by Chelsea Moscript (32), Molineux (27), Jess Matin (28), Kim Garth (24) and Laura Croft (22) saw the Panthers comfortably win with four wickets and 2.5 overs left.
In other matches, Box Hill (8/165) defeated Melbourne and Essendon Maribyrnong Park (9/210) easily accounted for Prahran (7/175).
Pearcedale blew away Peninsula powerhouse Sorrento with a stunning day of cricket at David McFarlan Reserve, with the Panthers flexing its muscles and ending the day on the brink of victory.
After Bobby Wilson and his Sharks elected to bat, the Panthers were merciless, with gun all-rounder Chris Dew (4/43), Kaine Smith (3/8) and Beau Scoble (2/16) knocking the hosts over for just 98 in 51.5 overs.
The Panthers not only emerged from the day unscathed, they are only 38 runs from victory, with Chris Dew (30 not out) and Billy Kennedy (21 not out) ensuring they reached 1/60 at stumps.

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