Taylors Lakes had to pull a rabbit out of a hat to stay alive in the match – and probably to remain a sub-district cricket finals contender.

Sitting four points out of the top six and with a mere 122 runs to defend against second-placed Balwyn at Gordon Barnard Reserve on Saturday, the Lions were on shaky ground but somehow found a way to end day one in a position of strength.

With 19 overs to bowl before stumps, Taylors Lakes had the chance to land a blow on Balwyn’s batting by exploiting the favourable conditions for bowlers.

“We were a bit disappointed being bowled out for 122, but we knew it was going to be a tough chase,” Lions skipper Michael Brne said.

“There was a bit in the track early. It was a bit damp and Balwyn has a massive ground with a lot of grass clippings left on it, so the ball wasn’t running at all, which was proved in our innings with only one boundary hit.

“Our score of around 120 would’ve normally been 180, so we had a belief that it was going to be a hard chase for them.”

Taylors Lakes left Balwyn’s batsmen stunned, having the hosts in all sorts of bother on 5-23, still 100 shy with just five wickets in hand.

Mark McLaughlin was at his menacing best with the new ball for the Lions with 3-18 off eight overs. He removed both Balwyn openers as well as their dangerous captain. “Macca changed the game for us,” Brne said. “Three got bowled, all top-order batsmen, too. He was swinging the ball nicely and bowled a really inspired spell for us.”

Taylors Lakes was not finished there. When the Lions threw the ball to star spinner Jarrod Wakeling, they found even more success.

Wakeling took 2-2 from four overs to take his season tally to 16 wickets at 14.5. “We know we can throw him the ball and something’s going to happen for us,” Brne said. It was tough going earlier in the day for Taylors Lakes’ batsmen. Shaun Guerra (15) was only batsman to hit a boundary.

For the Lions, Yoshan Kumara provided the innings’ spine with 34.