A spectacular individual performance from Roshan Anuruddha turned what was looking like a disastrous day for Darley into a good one in the Ballarat Cricket Association.
Facing ladder leaders Golden Point, the Lions were in all sorts of trouble early on at 6-30 and with their experienced batsmen back in the shed.
Anuruddha, in just his second first XI game and third game for the club, came in at No.8 with the task ahead of him.
He and Ryan Ali pushed the score to 92 before the loss of another two wickets had the Lions in real trouble at 9-112.
Anuruddha and David Hoey continued to fight on – the Lions were eventually dismissed for 200.
Anuruddha was the last man out, making 114 from 214 balls in an innings that included nine fours. Hoey finished three not out.
Lions coach Michael Alexander was thrilled to have a score of 200 to defend after the position they had earlier found themselves in.
“It was an outstanding finish in the end,” he said. “It’s quite a reasonable total to defend. Being 6-30, you’re scrounging to get a half-decent score. We got a good partnership and then lost a couple of wickets.
“We put on 90-odd for the 10th wicket partnership to get us to 200.”
Alexander said it was a stunning performance from Anuruddha.
“It’s only his second time batting for us,” he said. “We’re still trying to work out the best batting line-up with him in it. He showed us yesterday that he can come in under pressure and put together a really good knock.”
Alexander also praised Hoey, who came in at number 11 and did a job hanging around with Anuruddha.
The Lions had three overs to bowl at Golden Point at the end of the day, and got off to the perfect start by taking the wicket of Andrew Falkner. Matt Cape was the bowler.
Golden Point will resume at 1-10.
“That’s a bonus,”Alexander said. “We’ll now take the momentum into next week.”
With the Lions sitting in sixth place, a win this weekend would be massive in their fight for a finals spot.
Alexander said going into Christmas on a winning note would help set up their season. The Lions are 2-2, with both losses coming to Wendouree.
“We’re playing the top, undefeated team,” he said. “A win is critical for us to be 3-2 heading into Christmas.
“That would be really positive for us … we play [fourth-placed] Mt Clear after the break. It’s an interesting season at this stage.”
Darley’s second side is in control against Ballan. The Lions made the low score of 146, but fought back with the ball to have Ballan in trouble at 4-8.
The Lions will play a T20 match this week, facing Wendouree on Tuesday night. The Lions are 1-0 in that competition.