The pain of elimination will stick in the guts of Sunshine Heights players for some time.
The Heights bowed out of the premiership race after a five-wicket loss to Point Cook in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association division 3 semi-final at Saltwater Reserve on Sunday.
“It’s always disappointing to get beaten in a semi-final because you know you’re only one game away from being in the big one,” Heights captain Luke Simpson said. “We got outplayed a little bit and we can’t do much about it now.
“We’ve had a good year.”
There was optimism surrounding Sunshine Heights heading into the finals.
While Point Cook and Sunshine were consistently the two best sides over the course of the summer, the Heights came home strongly and beat the top-two in the new year.
Unfortunately for the Heights, they could not produce when it mattered most in the heat of the finals.
The Heights were behind the eight-ball on day one after posting 141 in 79 overs.
A run rate of 1.78 per over, brought about by a tough pitch to bat on and regular falling wickets, was not sufficient enough.
“It was pretty hard to bat on,” Simpson said.
“We got ourselves into a good position, but we just lost crucial wickets at stages when we didn’t need to lose wickets.
“It was really hard to get runs if you were new in and for new batsmen it was hard to score at the rate we needed to score at.”
Saman Gonawala (33) and Akat Mayoum (30) provided a solid foundation for Sunshine Heights.
A strength of the Heights is its middle order, but they failed to capitalise on starts.
Simpson (14), Tim Mahoney (10) and Mohsin Abbas (18) fell at inopportune times.
The Heights tail end provided no assistance.
“Saman is a class bat and he batted really well and Akat stood up and did a really good job for us,” Simpson said.
“Both of them batted really well, but after that a lot of blokes got a start and just didn’t take hold of it.”
Point Cook was aggressive from ball one of its run chase.
The Warriors reached the target in the 42nd over, batting at a rate of 3.47 runs per over.
Warriors opener Harpreet Singh (55) and youngster Darcy Harmer (36) took the game away from the Heights in a 68-run second wicket partnership.
Akon Mawien was the pick of the Sunshine Heights bowlers, finishing with 3-67 off 16 overs.
It was Mawien’s last game for the Heights before his move to Melbourne University.
Mawien came on the radar of the Premier Cricket team after taking 25 wickets at 16.6 this season.
“We’re never going to hold our players back,” Simpson said. “If they want to ply their trade at a higher level, we’ll push them to improve and push them towards that.”