Greenvale Kangaroos fell just short of victory in the opening round of the Vic Super Slam.
Hosting some of the first round matches of the T20 competition, the Kangaroos were hoping to make a good impression in front of their home crowd.
With clubs able to bring in guest players for the competition, the Kangaroos had two Sri Lankan international players take to the field.
Bowler Nuwan Kulasekara, who played more than 250 games for his country across all formats, joined Kangaroos playing coach Kaushal Silva in the team on Sunday.
Kangaroos skipper Michael Stretton said it was incredible to have two international players in the side.
“I don’t think I have ever played with two test cricketers for an extended period of time,” he said.
“There’s the extra experience and it will help the young guys. You can’t buy that experience.
“Being able to bring in Nuwan Kulasekara just adds more presence to the side. He was talking to the bowlers about T20 strategies and it’s good for the bowlers.”
The Kangaroos faced the Geelong Cats in round one of the competition, with the match going down to the final over.
The Cats elected to bat and made 7-133 off its overs.
Kulasekara and Sean McNicholl took two wickets each for the Kangaroos.
The Kangaroos looked in trouble at 4-28, with Zaheer Hussain and Michael Hay coming together at the crease.
The two did a lot of hard running to get their side back into the game. The Kangaroos eventually fell five runs short, finishing on 4-129.
Hussain finished 63 not out and Hay was 37 not out.
Stretton said he was really proud of how Hussain and Hay brought them back into the game.
“We bowled really well. They have a strong batting line up and to keep them to 130 was a positive.
“We lost a few wickets at the top of the order, which has been the way this season.
“Zaheer and Michael built a partnership. It’s a positive thing to take away from it, they were able to stick to the game plan.”
Stretton said the difference late in the game was Geelong’s fielding, which he said won them the game.
The Kangaroos second match against Northcote ended early due to rain.
The Kangaroos made 1-145 off 16.4 overs with their innings ending early due to rain.
Silva top scored with 77 not out at the top of the order, hitting seven fours and two sixes.
Northcote got out onto the field to start their innings, but it didn’t last long.
Just three balls were bowled, with the Dragons finishing 0-4.
Stretton said it was disappointing not to be able to play out the game.
“Kaushal and Jordan Moran did an unbelievable job and set the game up for a win,” he said.
“To be able to be in that position against a good side teaches us things.”
“Things haven’t quite gone our way yet.”
Stretton said they were hoping Kulasekara would be with them for the whole T20 competition.
Greenvale Kangaroos next match is on November 6 at Greenvale against Melbourne.