The Finley Cats put away Barooga with a strong all-round performance in Division One’s match-up of the Murray Valley Cricket Association at home on Saturday.
After losing the toss and being sent in to bowl, the Cats started strongly, with Bailey Coombs (1/17 off six) taking an early wicket, bowling Lachie Sutton for a duck.
The Cats kept a strong line, restricting the loose balls to a minimum with Coombs, Darcy Webb (1/15 off four), Ryan Donkin (1/30 off eight) and Murray Urquhart (3/22 off eight) all contributing to keeping Barooga at 6/60 after 16 overs.
Webb dismissed Richard Lavery, caught behind, in the sixth over to have the Hawks struggling on 2/12.
A moment of brilliance in the field with a direct hit to the stumps at long-off from Matthew Wilson saw an injured Will Power (16) run out when Sutton, who served as his runner, was caught out of his crease at the non-striker’s end.
After it looked like the innings would cruise to an early finish for the Cats with the flurry of wickets, the Barooga side dug in with Jon O’Dwyer fighting off the tight line, only putting away the loose balls to carry his side with a game high 67 not out.
Some dismal dropped catches from Urquhart, Daniel Hughes and Cougar McGrath gave dangerman O’Dwyer some lives that helped his squad reach 127 all out.
Division One call up, Phillip Leatham had a tremendous game in the field and if it wasn’t for a stumble chasing a ball to the rope, he would have had a Warner-like fielding performance.
Cats’ opening batters Adnan Malik (11) and McGrath (35) started the innings strong, seeing off the opening bowlers in a matter of overs before Malik was trapped in front after a solid delivery from Lavery (1/24 off five).
McGrath did a lot of damage early on before the fall of wicket, punishing anything short to the boundary, scoring 28 of his 37 in boundaries, unfortunately falling LBW to an in-swinging dart from Power (1/39 off eight).
This brought a short partnership from the ‘Magic’ Murray Urquhart and Hughes (10) together, if only for a short time before a hasty single attempt left Hughes short of his crease and walking back to the pavilion earlier than he would have liked.
The wicket did not hinder the Cats however, as Urquhart and Wilson went on to dominate out in the middle, accelerating the Cats to a six-wicket win.
Urquhart (48) fell just short of a 2019/20 maiden season 50, as he tried reaching it in style by sending one over the ropes, unfortunately not connecting as it sailed through the stumps behind him.
A resounding all-round win from the Cats has them back in winning form as they face Katunga at home for the second time this season in what will be their last match for 2019.
The Division Two Cats also caught the winning bug on Saturday when they travelled to Katunga, defeating them by 14 runs.
Cats captain Marcus Anderson won the toss and confidently sent his team in to bat.
This proved the right move as the away side marched away to a season best 165 runs.
The batting was bolstered by unbeaten half centuries from Russell Anderson (50 retired not out) and young gun Archie Mason (51 retired not out).
Anderson stayed in form and hoisted multiple boundaries, six ‘fours’ and one ‘six, during his knock.
After getting off to a slow start, Mason loosened up his arms and found his eye for the ball with four ‘fours’, surging to his not out innings after the drinks break.
Strong batting from Matthew Peacock (26) helped solidify the middle older, helping the Cats on their way to 7/165 off 35 overs.
Opening up the bowling was young paceman Anthony King (1/10 off five) and Damon Anderson (1/22 off five), who both bowled a tight line and anchored down the Katunga run chase from the outset.
Opting to bowl off-spin for the first time saw Mason (3/21 off five) dismiss the two opening batters, both taken in catches from Russell Anderson and Peacock.
Clay Webb (1/26 off five) also came out of the gate with precision bowling.
Peacock proved to be an absolute dynamo in the field, swallowing four catches, including an absolute spectacle running in five metres to take a forward diving screamer.
The Katunga side started to build a solid innings in the middle order as they grew closer to the Cats’ total with Oliver Small (35) putting on a big performance.
An economical spell from the Cats skipper Marcus Anderson (1/5 off five), with help from opening bowler King, held off a last stand from the home side to see them finish all out on 151 in the last over.
The Division Two Cats will play under lights at home after Division One as part of a senior Cats home double-header.
They will host the undefeated ladder leaders Jerilderie, with the match starting at 6pm.