GOLDEN Square will be aiming to carry the momentum it built after its shaky start last week into this afternoon’s second day of its round 11 Bendigo District Cricket Association clash with Bendigo United.
In what is a battle of two top-four teams, Golden Square has a score of 9-235 to defend at Harry Trott Oval.
Square staged a remarkable recovery last week to bat out its 85 overs after one stage being 4-5.
The revival was led by a 109-run partnership for the fifth wicket between captain Grant Connelly (75) and John Lalor (44), while Scott Woodman (48 n.o.) and James Pietromonaco (14 n.o.) shared in an unbroken stand of 63 for the last wicket.
Bendigo United captain Leigh McDermott said a target of 236 would be a good test for his side a month out from the finals.
“They got away from us at the end last week, but 235 is a good test for us at this time of the season,” McDermott said yesterday.
“I remember we chased a similar score (9-243) against them in the second-last round last year at Golden Square, so that gives us confidence.
“If we bat out our 85 overs, I’m confident we’ll get the runs.”
To win, though, the Redbacks will have to drastically improve on their last performance against Square a month ago when they were skittled for 130 chasing 135 in their one-day match.
Golden Square will be without paceman Darren Clutton, who is resting a back problem, while Luke Baird and Pietromonaco are both coming off three-fors against Strathdale-Maristians last round.
Heath Behrens is the form batsman in the Redbacks’ side, having scored 115 n.o. and 50 in his past two games and now has 600 runs for the season.
● Huntly-North Epsom has a massive score of 4-408 to defend in its game against Sandhurst at J.L. King Weeroona Oval.
The Power are nine points outside the top four and need to win their remaining three games to be a chance of making the finals for the second year in a row.
Last week’s batting run-feast was highlighted by a 322-run opening partnership between Ryan Grundy (176) and captain Linc McRae (145).
However, the Power will be down a key bowler today, with Sam Johnston (hamstring) again missing.
But even without Johnston, if the Power can’t defend a score of more than 400 against a side lower than them on the ladder, they don’t deserve to play finals.
The Dragons need to score at 4.8 runs per over if they are to chase down the target and record what would be a memorable victory.
Sandhurst’s last score over 400 was when the Dragons made 493 against Bendigo in round four of the 2006-07 season.
● Strathfieldsaye has put the pressure back on Eaglehawk in their game at Canterbury Park.
After being bowled out for 192 last week, the Jets have already picked up two of the Hawks’ key batsmen in captain Jason Abbott (2) and Anthony West (0).
Ben Devanny (2-5) took both wickets as the Hawks went to stumps last week at 2-13 off 11 overs.
Matt Fitt (4 n.o.) and Matt White (0 n.o.) will resume the chase today for the Hawks, who if they get beaten are likely to be just three points clear of the fifth-placed Huntly-North Epsom heading into the last two rounds.
Having already lost two wickets and with the Eaglehawk batting line-up prone to batting collapses, it shapes as an interesting afternoon’s play between the two sides.
● Strathdale-Maristians needs just 71 more runs with nine wickets in hand to defeat Kangaroo Flat at Bell Oval.
The Suns will begin the day at 1-75 after dismissing the Roos for 145 last week.
The in-form Travis King (37 n.o.) and Jono Davidson (18 n.o.) are the not out batsmen for the Suns.
With captain Adam Burns in the side, the Roos should never be discounted, but today shapes as an ideal day for the Suns to get some batting practice a month out from the finals.
Dom Taylor and Craig Howard, in particular, could do with some time in the middle, having had just 11 hits between them this season.
● Bendigo should be confident it can win its second game of the season.
The Goers bowled superbly last week against White Hills to restrict the Demons to 8-182 at Integrating Technology Oval.
After scoring 172 last round against one of the best bowling attacks in the competition in Eaglehawk, the Goers would be disappointed if they don’t chase down their target today and end their run of near-misses.