There are two big reasons why Sunshine fans are smiling like Cheshire Cats at work this week.
They saw their Crows pounce on top spot with victory in a Victorian Turf Cricket Association north A1 top-of-the-table blockbuster.
And they got to witness their eye-catching Sri Lankan import Asela Aluthge unleash some batting fury.
No wonder Crows captain Troy Stone is excited.
“We’re top of the ladder now and looking to stay there and play finals,” he said.
Sunshine stamped itself as a genuine premiership contender with the 10-run win over Sydenham-Hillside at Hillside Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
The Crows posted 7-196 off their maximum 45 overs.
Aluthge was scintillating en route to 110 in an innings that included 20 fours.
He only needed about 70 balls to bring up the ton – and when he did he got a standing ovation from supporters.
Stone marvelled at the crispness of Aluthge’s hitting.
“He just came out and bashed the ball around,” Stone said. “I went out there and batted later. I found it pretty hard – it wasn’t an easy deck to bat on. He made a real difficult batting wicket look easy.”
Sam Magnano played the perfect support role, contributing 36 runs in a 159-run second wicket partnership with Aluthge to help the Crows go from 1-0 to 2-159.
Sydenham-Hillside made Sunshine sweat late in the day. The Storm was seemingly dead and buried at 8-110, but managed to extract 76 runs out of its last two wickets to almost steal victory from the jaws of defeat.
“Full credit to them – they had a crack at the end and we got a bit lazy in the field with the late finish,” Stone said.
Also in north A1, Caroline Springs moved closer to the top four with a confidence-building 14-run win over finals contender Moonee Valley at Ormond Park.
Set 190 for victory, the Falcons reached the target seven down with Gayashan Weerasekara leading the way with 107 not out, his second unbeaten century for the summer.
In senior division, Keilor is back in the top four after pummelling Tullamarine by 74 runs at Leo Dineen Reserve.
Defending just 149, the Blues bowled Tulla out for a mere 75 thanks to three wickets apiece to Matthew Dargan, Kaushal Lokuarachchi and Kristian Dixon.
In north-west division, St Albans kept on rolling with a 50-run win over West Coburg at Morris Reserve. With only 146 runs to play with, the Saints kept it tight with the ball, skittling Wests for just 96 after four wickets apiece to Geeth Alwis and Tom Langley-Dunn.
Simon Lambert’s 49 earlier in the day was crucial for the Saints.
Keilor Park was no match for Haig Fawkner, going down by 153 runs at Charles Mutton Reserve, but Sunshine United got the better of Laverton at Selwyn Park, passing the 146-run target six down to win by eight runs.
In north west B1, it was a disappointing round for high-flying local sides Deer Park and Sunshine Heights. They both suffered defeats, but still remain in first and second, even if their grip loosened somewhat at the weekend.