All set to slug it out

November 25, 2016

Shepparton United will be hoping Josh Lawrence can do his thing with the willow when the side faces off against Old Students.

There will be a genuine blockbuster battle at Princess Park tomorrow.

To mark the opening of the two-day matches, Shepparton United hosts Old Students in a battle to decide top-four supremacy.

United has carried on from where it left off last season to win five of its first six games and qualify for the one-day final on December 4.

The Students have put a poor season behind them, when they won just one game, to again be in finals contention.

However, two narrow slip-ups in the past two weeks cost them a place in the limited-overs decider, with United to take on Cricket Shepparton powerhouse Central Park-St Brendan’s.

Students playing coach Daniel Coombs said the previous games had been disappointing, but believed a switch to the longer format would enable his side to play its best cricket.

‘‘The change is probably going to be good for us, I think it suits our cricket and we’ve got a long batting line-up,’’ Coombs said.

‘‘We’ll see what the wicket is like on Saturday, because there’s been a bit of rain about this week, and the toss will be a crucial one.

‘‘The key is always to bat 80 overs and we might look at reorganising the batting line-up slightly.

‘‘United is a dangerous side and we know it will be a tough game and we’ll probably see where we’re at after a couple of losses.’’

Fast bowler Andrew Ireland has been in terrific form since returning to Australia after missing last season with the Students.

Lightfoot medallist Nick Breslin has been one of the league’s best performing bowlers with 17 wickets at 10.5.

United has the belief of a top side thanks to consistent performances with the bat and polished efforts in the field.

Skipper Chris Rendina has been one of those players delivering with the willow and expects his side to continue on with that recent form.

‘‘I’m keen to see how everyone adapts to the two-day format. We’ve already done a bit of training with the red ball, but I personally like the two-day format more,’’ Rendina said.

The fixture has been shaken up this year to play all the one-day matches first, with 80-over games from here until the grand final in March.

‘‘I like this format and the way the season is structured,’’ Rendina said.

‘‘We’re able to work out our strategies and plans for the one-day stuff and then after that just think about the two-day cricket.’’

Rendina, Rehan Bari and former captain Josh Lawrence are some of the most damaging batsmen in the competition and are capable of destroying attacks.

Teenager Harry Tonks has been a revelation in two A-grade games as he opened the bowling and took three wickets against Karramomus.

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