Innswood close in
LAST year’s beaten finalists Innswood High remained on course to halt Eltham High’s quest to win a sixth successive Corporate Area cricket title in the ISSA/Grace Shield final at Melbourne Oval yesterday.
Batting a second time after their first-innings score of 198, Innswood rattled up 322 after dismissing Eltham for a modest 124 in their first innings.
The challengers then took a wicket just before close of play to edge closer to their first ever senior schoolboy title.
Resuming on their overnight score of 116 for six, Eltham struggled to deal with pacer Michail Powell and added only another eight runs before being bowled out.
Powell finished with four wickets for 20 off 13 overs and two balls, while off-spinner Peat Salmon ended with three for 30 off 19.
Joseph Dennie’s 57 from day one was the highest score, while Jevon Innis added just one to his overnight 20 before being dismissed.
Buoyed by their 74-run first-innings lead, the Innswood opening pair of captain Oraine Williams and Peat Salmon then drove and cut their way to a stand of 136 before the latter was caught at long-off for 53 from 106 balls, inclusive of seven boundaries.
Williams went immediately after for a crisp 82 off 144 balls, laced with eight fours.
Another two wickets went down quickly before Marshall March was joined by Oshane Morgan. They partnered in a quickfire stand of 135 for the fifth wicket and took the score to 284 before March was dismissed for 55 off 108 deliveries, while stroking five boundaries. Morgan was eventually dismissed for a stroke-filled 81, while hitting 10 fours from 97 balls.
The rest of the Innswood batting failed to cope with captain Kino Paul Sailsman, who bagged four for 59 from 22 overs to finish with 11 wickets in the match, while left-arm spinner Innis ended with figures of four for 59 from 21.
Set an imposing target of 397, Eltham lost opener Omar Creighton leg-before wicket to Powell in the first over of their chase. Powell has now taken 31 wickets this season with his lively medium pace.
The five-time defending champions will require another 393 runs with nine wickets remaining to make it six in a row.
Their hopes rest on the middle-order pair of Dennie and Sailsman to force an improbable comeback when play resumes today at 10:00 am.
Sailsman was confident in his assessment of what could be expected in his team’s chase for victory.
“Bowling them out for 300-odd we feel we came back good because they were 100 and odd runs for one,” said Sailsman. “We can do it once Joseph Dennie and I and the other batsmen come good. The pitch is very nice to bat on, so we have a chance to do it.”
Innswood coach Kirk Gordon told the Observer he is confident his bowlers have what it takes to dismiss Eltham twice in the match.
“We have a tremendous chance going into the last day with one wicket already in the bag for us. I think 397 is out of their reach with my quality bowling.
“Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, so my players know they can’t get complacent,” he said, while noting his team fell short by 70 runs in their second time at the crease.