Two routes – one more palatable than the other – are available for Hoppers Crossing in the penultimate weekend of the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association south-west group regular season.
The Cats can all but lock away a finals berth with a successful run chase on home soil against Oakleigh on Saturday.
By contrast, a loss will leave the side’s fate to the last round of the season, when it will have to travel to top-of-the-table Caulfield for a one-day game.
Cats player-coach Greg Kennedy undoubtedly prefers the first scenario.
“If we don’t get the win, we’re going to be in a game against the top side that we would have to win,” he said.
“So it’s a much better idea to win this game and turn up to the last game feeling comfortable we’ll be playing in the finals.
“It would also be huge to knock off Oakleigh, a team above us on the ladder – not just for the ladder, but for our own belief in our ability.”
Nailing a win against Oakleigh will be a challenge.
The Cats have been set a massive target after the Oaks posted an imposing 8-279 off 80 overs.
Even with their backs against the wall, the Cats will go into the chase optimistically.
They made 296 in round one against
Taylors Lakes and 281 in round six against Brighton.
“We know we’re good enough to chase down this sort of total,” Kennedy said.
Oakleigh top order batsmen Brendan McGuinness (94) and former Victorian state representative Graeme Vimpani (54) made life difficult for Hoppers Crossing on the first day.
At one stage, the Oaks appeared headed for a score in excess of 300, but the Cats bowlers did well to reel them in.
Kennedy (2-35) and Brett Smith (2-44) took vital wickets late in the day.
Hoppers Crossing spinner Mitch Ellis deserves plaudits for his tireless work in containing a dangerous Oakleigh line-up.
Ellis finished with 4-103 off 31 overs, including eight maidens and the scalp of Vimpani.
“Mitch bowled all of his overs in a row,” Kennedy said.
“He came on after Brett’s first spell and didn’t finish until Brett bowled his second spell the last five overs down his end.
“He was just a workhorse … he bowled really well.”
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