Contenders or pretenders?

December 02, 2016

Josh Lawrence is in the right form to help Shepparton United chase down Old Students' 249 tomorrow.

Was Old Students’ early season success just a flash in the pan or can Dan Coombs’ men return to form?

The answer will arrive tomorrow when they fight to protect 249 runs against a formidable Shepparton United batting line-up at John Riordan Oval.

Students playing coach Coombs has thrown the gauntlet down to his men, demanding to know if they are contenders or pretenders.

‘‘Obviously we’ve lost our last couple, so it’s really important we prove we can still compete and get back on track with a win, but it won’t be easy,’’ Coombs said.

‘‘I think 250 is about par, so we’ll have to bowl well, we know we’ve got guys who can take the wickets and if we’re not taking wickets, it’s about building dots.

‘‘The new ball will be important, if we can get a couple of early ones we can have a look at their middle order and put some pressure on them.’’

United skipper Chris Rendina admitted the Cricket Shepparton one-day final on Sunday was in the back of his players’ minds, but said they were still determined to get the job done tomorrow.

‘‘Our number one focus right now is to make 250 runs on Saturday and if we transfer our batting form from the one-day game into the two-day game, we should be able to do it,’’ Rendina said.

‘‘We just need to add a little bit more patience to our batting and spend time at the crease and I’m confident the runs will come.’’

The United top order has been on fire this season with Rehan Bari (419 runs at 69.8), Rendina (213 runs at 42.6) and Josh Lawrence (151 runs 30.2) all in red hot form.

‘‘A few of us have made runs this summer, so we’ve definitely got the batting power to get the job done, we just need to stay patient and keep our wickets intact,’’ Rendina said.

Coombs said the contest would ultimately be decided by which team wanted it more and the result would provide a telling indication of where his side was at.

‘‘We haven’t really taken the half chances this season, which we’ll definitely need to do on Saturday because they’ve got quality batsman and if we give them chances, they’ll make us pay,’’ he said.

‘‘This game will be a good sign of where we’re at because United will definitely be pushing towards the top, but I’m confident the boys can get it done.’’

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