For Sunshine Heights, a big win over a local rival was as much about confidence and belief as it was about bragging rights.
In a commanding Victorian Turf Cricket Association division 3 54-run win over top-of-the-ladder Sunshine on Saturday, the Heights proved that their best is plenty good enough to match it with any team in the competition.
For Heights coach Luke Simpson and his team, it was an important victory.
“To beat the top side, who are the side to beat at the moment, is great for the confidence of our guys going forward,” Simpson said.
But Sunshine Heights will not be able to catch ladder-leaders Sunshine and Point
The Heights’ hopes were dashed in a four-wicket loss to Williamstown Imperials in a one-day game on Sunday.
So the Heights’ focus now turns to making sure of a finals berth.
“As you can tell by the ladder at the moment, it’s pretty tight for those third and fourth spots, while Sunshine and Point Cook have kicked clear,” Simpson said.
“Mathematically they can be caught, but they’ll have to slip up, obviously.
“We’re fighting tooth and nail to try and get a finals spot first.”
The victory over Sunshine came largely through the impact of Saman Gonawala with the bat. His 87 was the cornerstone of the Heights’ 9-192 declared.
Averaging 49 this season, Gonawala is underlining his status as one of the premier batsmen in the competition.
“He’s all class,” Simpson said. “I was quoted in the paper last year saying he’s one of the best batsmen in the comp and I don’t think much has changed there.
“His 87 was probably worth 140 when you consider how slow the outfield was and how big Sunshine’s ground is.
“He’s just a super classy batsman and one that you’d rather have on your side watching him bat than watching him bat while you’re fielding.”
Sunshine was bowled out for just 138, Asela Aluthge providing the only resistance with 64.
Akon Mawien was brilliant with the ball for the Heights with four wickets, including the scalp of Aluthge.
“He’s taken a while to get into form, he’s been injured, but he’s just firing at the right time of the year,” said Simpson of Mawien.
“He got a couple of big wickets early for us and then a couple more through the middle that really changed the game.
“On his day, he’s the most dangerous bowler in the competition.”
Sunshine Heights will have another huge pre-finals test when it travels to Point Cook for a two-day game starting on Saturday.
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