By Jonty Ralphsmith
A Ryan Patterson masterclass has delivered Heinz Southern Districts a stirring win at Casey Fields in the latest instalment of thrillers against Cranbourne.
“It’s the best home and away win of my senior career,” Patterson said, following his spell of 6/46.
At one point late on day one, Cranbourne was cruising at 0/65, pursuing 127 for victory, before HSD rose like a phoenix from the ashes to win by seven runs.
Cranbourne entered day two 31 runs in arrears with its two most stable middle-order bats at the crease: Harsaroup Singh and Sajana De Silva.
But a succession of Patterson wickets late the previous week gave the Cobras a sniff, needing just four wickets for victory.
Needing breakthroughs, stand-in captain Mackenzie Gardner bowled Patterson and express left armer Triyan De Silva in tandem to start day two.
The mountain Cranbourne would have to climb amid HSD’s energy was clear from the first over, as Singh was nearly undone by a direct hit.
Consecutive De Silva maidens and just three scoring shots in the first 26 balls heightened the tension and brought the pressure.
Singh was eventually beaten by a ball on off-stump, Patterson’s relentless accuracy bringing lower-order hitter Antony Galley in at nine with 23 runs still to get.
“The ball nipped back off the pitch, it was probably the only thing that was going to get him, he was batting well,” the seamer said.
“We knew we had to get a couple early so when we got Singh a couple of overs in we felt like we had a chance.”
Thirty-eight balls and 14 runs later, as the game finally looked out of reach for HSD, a thick De Silva outside edge off Patterson lobbed to point, bringing out number 10 Jakeb Thomas.
Nine runs to get; two wickets in hand.
Coming off a half-century in round four, he was run out two balls later as panic set in; Galley cracked it to Hans Bell at cover point who cleanly gathered and threw to the ‘keeper for an easy run out.
Captain-coach Clint Ayres faced the same equation as Thomas when he arrived at the crease.
A former Turf 1 opening batter, and having faced a similar situation in his sole First XI game last season, Ayres was given out LBW on the final ball of the De Silva over, cuing raucous celebrations.
Following early Cam Kelly fireworks, Cranbourne lost its 10 wickets for just 54 runs.
A searing Patterson spell late on day one helped HSD claim six late wickets for 30 runs as a series of Cranbourne’s night-watchers were unable to hold fort.
De Silva and Patterson, who rarely bowl in tandem, sent down six overs each to see their team to victory, the discipline of both supported by excellent ring fielding.
“It was nipping both ways,” Patterson said.
“Back of a length, clipping the top of the stumps was getting the most movement.
“For me it was about putting every ball on the stumps and make every ball a potential wicket and make them make a mistake.
“We felt a little bit of pressure but making runs is so much harder than when you’re the team bowling.
“(In the first couple of games) I didn’t adjust as well back to two-day cricket.
“I felt every ball like I need to get a wicket whereas this week I was confident to be patient with it and something will come.
“It was probably less pressure because we were only defending 126; naturally you know you have a chance but you know it’s not likely.”
The seven-run victory is the latest iteration in thrilling results between the clubs, following a last ball win in the 2022-23 semi final which saw Cranbourne clinch a semi-final spot.
In the corresponding fixture the previous season, it was a big win to HSD.
It’s the third time this season the young Cobras have escaped from jail, following a two-wicket win over Keysborough, chasing just 92 in round one, and holding on for a draw with two wickets in hand against Parkfield in round two.
A second innings result never looked likely, HSD bowled out for 164 after 52 overs and Cranbourne reaching 3/40 after seven before stumps was called.
Elsewhere, Keysborough never threatened Narre Warren’s 9/267, skipper Christo Otto top-scoring with 70 in a total of 176.
Parkfield eased to a five-wicket victory over Parkfield, Dishan Malalasekera’s 69 headlining the chase.
Dandenong West’s clash with Lyndale was a Saturday-Sunday fixture due to ground availability, with the Bulls recording a surprise outright win.
Following back-to-back half-centuries, veteran Shaun Weir reached triple figures, anchoring the punchy 9/265 with 115 off 252, Anthony Brannan’s 60 a supporting act in a strong partnership.
A deadly opening spell from Nuwan Kulasekara (5/7 off six) was the catalyst for Lyndale’s collapse, all out for 69, sent back in before tea as Dandy West hunted for the kill.
In the second dig, six Lyndale batters reached double digits but just one passed 30, the series of cameos through the middle insufficient to stave off an outright loss.
Adam Reid took his second five-wicket haul of the season.