Bendigo United to defend 6-283 in BDCA grand final




On Saturday after Bendigo United won the toss and batted, opener Matt Pinniger's outstanding season continued as he was the backbone of the Redbacks' 6-283.

Pinniger scored the BDCA's first grand final century for seven years with a brilliant 115 that was his eighth score above 50 and second ton of the season.

Pinniger opened the batting with Mark Di Fede on a belter of a grand final wicket well prepared by the City of Greater Bendigo curators.

Golden Square sprung the first surprise of the match when Grant Connelly - not Darren Clutton - opened the bowling with Luke Baird.

Di Fede made a positive start to his innings when on the first ball he faced, he clipped Connelly to fine leg for a boundary.

That was the first of four boundaries in Bendigo United's first 20 runs on what was a lightning fast QEO outfield.

Di Fede and Pinniger put on 28 for the first wicket, before the introduction of Clutton into the attack at the city end reaped rewards for Golden Square in the 10th over.

In his second over Clutton claimed Square's first wicket when Di Fede (14 off 29, three fours) shouldered arms and was bowled off-stump.

For the second week in a row, the No.3 batting position for Bendigo United that has so long been Heath Behrens' was filled by Ben Gunn.

Gunn was tested early by Clutton, who from his first over bowled with his customary sharp pace.

However, both Gunn and Pinniger survived the early onslaught from Clutton and batted Bendigo United into a position of strength.

While Pinniger is well-known for his attacking flair, he showed tremendous temperament and patience as he continually refused to play at anything outside off-stump, particularly from Baird.

Both Pinniger and Gunn were content to wait for the loose ball, and when it came, they capitalised.

Gunn and Pinniger were in complete control against a Golden Square side that didn't put the pair under enough constant pressure before tea.

The Redbacks - who scored only six of their first 57 runs in singles - brought up their 100 in the 37th over, and by the tea break both Pinniger and Gunn had made half-centuries as Bendigo United looked on track for a 300-plus score, like its last grand final against Golden Square in 2007.

With Pinniger on 55 off 135 balls and Gunn on 50 off 113, the Redbacks went to the tea break at 1-123 off 46 overs.

With the game in control of Bendigo United at tea, there was relief for Square three overs into the resumption when left-arm spinner Liam Smith claimed the wicket of his former Strathfieldsaye team-mate Gunn.

Gunn went out to one of the great BDCA grand final catches when a leading edge skied to mid-off.

Thankfully for Golden Square, it went to their tallest player Scott Trollope, who running back with the flight of the ball took a brilliant one-handed reaching catch, which ended Gunn's innings on 57 (123 balls, seven fours).

Gunn and Pinniger added 101 for the second wicket off 230 balls, with Gunn's dismissal leaving the Redbacks' 2-129 in the 49th over.

Heath Behrens - coming off scores of 4 and 0 in his previous two grand finals - added 64 more for the third wicket with Pinniger in a 130-ball partnership.

In what was his 10th grand final, Behrens played some of the shots of the day with his cover drive boundaries in his knock of 30 off 74 balls, before he spooned a catch to Clutton at mid-wicket to give Baird his first wicket in his 20th over.

The wicket of Behrens, who early in his innings took 46 balls to reach double figures, left the Redbacks' 3-193 in the 72nd over.

However, Pinniger - who is now averaging 68.9 in finals for Bendigo United - remained the main stumbling block for Square, with the opener bringing up his century in the 75th over with a single off Connelly. 

Pinniger reached 115 before his supreme innings came to an end in the 78th over when a skied shot was caught by Square captain and the BDCA's No.1 fieldsman for the season, Tim Wood, at point off Clutton.

Pinniger batted for 254 minutes, faced 225 balls and hit 15 fours in his knock, which was the first BDCA grand final century since Behrens' 139 not out against Golden Square in 2007.

Pinniger's 115 - which took his tally of runs for the season to 828 at an average of 63.6 - was his second-consecutive ton in a final against Golden Square after he also made 126 not out against them in the 2010 semi-final.

Following Pinniger's wicket with the score on 228, the Redbacks added 55 more runs off the last 43 balls through captain Leigh McDermott and Harry Donegan to end the day at 6-283.

Those 55 runs included 17 off the last over bowled by Connelly.

Connelly's last over featured two sixes from McDermott, who was run out off the final ball of the innings by Jason Johnson attempting an unlikely second run.

McDermott made 32 off 28, while Donegan batted well to finish 24 not out off 24 balls.

McDermott's 32 continued his strong lower-order grand final contributions for the Redbacks.

In four grand final innings for Bendigo United, McDermott has made scores of 32 n.o., 14, 44 and 32.

The 17-run last over ended the innings on a high for Bendigo United after Golden Square had fought back well after the break to keep the Redbacks under 300.

Clutton finished with 3-78 off 21 overs to be the only multiple wicket-taker for Golden Square.

As well as dismissing Di Fede and Pinniger, Clutton also claimed the wicket of Bryan Vance (5).

Baird also bowled 21 overs, including eight maidens, taking 1-47.

Smith bowled well in his 15-over spell for his 1-41.

Connelly finished with 0-73 off 18 overs, having earlier conceded just 27 runs off his first 11 overs, which at one stage included four consecutive maidens.

Golden Square fielded well, but chances were few and far between, while the side also did well in conceding just six extras - two no-balls, two wides and two leg byes.

• Scoring breakdown:

Bendigo United -5th over: 0-20, 10th: 1-30, 15th: 1-42, 20th: 1-51, 25th: 1-63, 30th: 1-80, 35th: 1-99, 40th: 1-111, 45th: 1-121, 50th: 2-131, 55th: 2-146, 60th: 2-162, 65th: 2-174, 70th: 2-191, 75th: 3-208, 80th: 5-239, 85th: 6-283.

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