The strong early season form of Neeten Chouhan was the lone bright point for Sunshine United on Saturday as it ended the day precariously placed in its clash with Spotswood.
The Victorian Turf Cricket Association senior division rivals met for the first day of their two-day clash, and while Chouhan crafted his second 50 of the summer, it was the Spotswood bowlers who enjoyed the spoils as they dismissed the hosts for just 136 before making a sizeable dent in the target before stumps.
United captain Leigh Sheridan said it was good to see Chouhan continue his strong form, but lamented his side’s inability to stay out there with him.
“We just kept losing wickets at the wrong time and could never get a partnership going for long enough,” Sheridan said.
“Neetan has been fantastic for us this year. He gave up the captaincy this year due to personal commitments, but it hasn’t affected his batting at all and we’ve really batted around him in the first few games.”
Sunshine United won the toss and took first use of the pitch, but was soon on the back foot as Scott Dalrymple (5), Ladd John (8) and Sheridan (0) all fell cheaply to have the hosts reeling at 3-17.
Dan Schuppan was doing the early damage for Spotswood as he collected all three wickets as well as keeping the run rate in check.
Schuppan’s new ball partner Allan Wise was injured in his fourth over of the day, but the United batsmen were unable to make the most of his absence as Sangaran Nandhalal (4) also returned to the sheds at the hands of Gene Maurice (2-18).
Chouhan looked solid at the other end as the wickets fell, and he built a stabalising partnership with Tom Duxson (14) before he became Maurice’s second victim.
Adam Duxson made 13, and Roshan Anuruddha (10) got all his runs in boundaries, but neither was able to hang around long enough to help Chouhan.
Chouhan’s 61 was the clear standout innings, while Schuppan bowled his heart out to finish with 5-31 off 18 overs.
With a small total, early wickets were crucial for United and Roshan Anuruddha duly delivered as he dismissed Leigh Forbes (6) cheaply.
That was as good as it got for the home side, with just one more wicket falling as Spotswood closed the day on 2-70.
Ross Horkings (39 not out) looked strong with the willow and will be the key wicket when play resumes this week.
Sheridan wasn’t ruling out the chance of a win this week, however slim the odds.
“We need the wickets early, so we’ll need to be on from ball one,” he said.
MORE VTCA NEWS