Werribee Centrals have taken the tough route to the Victorian Turf Cricket Association division 2 finals, but there is nothing that can surprise them now.
The Centurions have mixed some intoxicating highs with troubling lows.
But when the dust settled, they were in third place and every bit a chance to go on and challenge for the flag.
Centurions president Kevin Johnson lauded the side’s “never-say-die attitude”.
“They’ve had their backs to the wall most games and they find a way to win,” he said.
Centurions had to beat Kingsville – which was also fighting for a place in the top four – in the last round at Skinner Reserve to secure a finals berth. When the Centurions were bundled out for a meagre 111, they were at long odds to feature in the finals.
Kingsville was in the box seat at 3-50 overnight.
A fast start with 10 runs off the first over in day two left the Centurions in a world of hurt.
“When you make 111 and they’re 3-50 overnight and the first over went for 10, you’re really under the pump,” Johnson said.
What happened from that point was remarkable.
Werribee Centrals claimed the last seven batsmen for just 36 to have Kingsville all out for 97 – 15 runs short of victory.
“They really turned it on,” said Johnson of Centurions’ performance.
The tireless bowling performance of Rahmatullah Khwaja as the temperature gauge neared 40C will be remembered at Werribee Centrals for a long time.
Khwaja got the better of his former club with a crucial 3-29 off 22 overs.
“He bowled from one end all day,” Johnson said.
“It was a great performance – unbelievable. He really did a job for the team.”
There was plenty of pressure from the other end too. Ashley Appleby finished with 3-49
off 16 overs, while Joel Russell took 3-16 off eight.
“They’re our three strike bowlers – they had to do something to save our season and they got it together,” Johnson said.
Werribee Centrals will hit the road to face Glenroy at Sewell Reserve in a semi-final.
Having finished the season 17 points behind the Roys, the Centurions will go into the game as underdogs.
“They’re not fussed with who they play in the finals,” Johnson said.
“The side is really good, they’re happy with the way they’re playing … they’re excited and looking forward to playing Glenroy.”
In division 3, Point Cook has qualified for the finals in second spot.
The Warriors will face a tough semi-final match-up with in-form Sunshine Heights at Saltwater Reserve.
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