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Finals fever in full swing

Posted: 02-Mar-2016 by Cricket Senior

Finals fever in full swing

Maccabi AJAX’s First XI ended their season on a bitter note failing to beat stragglers Burnley on Sunday, falling 30 runs short of the set total of 112.

There were a number of positives out of the season, bettering their bottom-placed finish in 2014/15 to finish 6th-two games outside the top four, was one of them.

MCA Ladders

The club’s sole attention now turns to the Seconds and Circle of Latitude Third XI’s finals campaign that kicks off this weekend, after both teams ended the regular season fine-tuning for the fortnight ahead that sees them as firm favourites to feature on the last Sunday of the season. 

Finals Fixtures

The First XI were ahead of opponents Burnley, entering the second day of their clash at Loughnan Oval, but failed to capitalise on the advantage set by the bowlers on day one.

Resuming play at 3/30 in pursuit of 112, the Jackas were never able to consolidate the loss of early wickets the week before, and despite the defiance shown by Nochum Paltiel (17), the home side needed just 30 overs to dismiss the Firsts, for 82.

Burnley chased the outright result, considering a further 45 overs of the day remained, and they gave themselves every chance, swinging their way to 2/98 off 24 overs, compiling a lead of 128 with 20 overs left for either side to effect a second innings result.

In reply, the Jackas threw caution to the wind, scoring at a positive rate, with the charge once again led by Paltiel who brought up his maiden First XI half-century in the process.

Four wickets fell around him as he denied the Burnley attack any glimmer of hope, eventually closing the innings unbeaten on 57, with the Jackas 4/109 off the 20 overs, 19 short of claiming a remarkable reverse outright result.

Weekend Results

Meanwhile, the Second XI recovered from yet another top order collapse, to beat Carnegie by four wickets, and in doing so knocking them out of the finals race.

Bowling first, the Jackas were on the back foot early as the home side raced away to 1/56 within 12 overs, however towering-quick Josh Jones began his spell with a bang, removing two Carnegie batsmen in consecutive balls.

Wickets were taken regularly thereafter, as Meir New chimed in with two of his own.

Carnegie was eventually bowled out for 144 in the 35th over, Jones the pick of the bowlers, continuing his strong form with 4/30 off 6.5 overs.

The Jackas’ run chase quickly took a familiar path as two wickets fell in consecutive balls in the first over, handing the home side the early advantage.

From 2/0, the Seconds limped to 4/15, before skipper Eytan Epstein and young gun Reece Israel combined for a match-saving 86-run partnership, stealing back the momentum and eventually setting up a courageous comeback win.

Epstein fell short of his half-century, dismissed for an important 45, while Israel registered his second fifty of the season, run-out for a classy 66 that included eight boundaries.

Jones saw the Seconds home, finishing unbeaten on 27 to end the regular season with a four-wicket win.

The Third XI eventually got the points in a seesawing affair against rivals Bentleigh, after a complete all-round performance from Daniel Wein, sealed the nail-biting one-wicket win.

Bocha Shot: Listen back to Daniel's modest recount of his performance on Sunday as he spoke with the boys from J-Air's 'On the Ball' program. 

Wein’s left-arm pace proved too much for the home-side’s top and middle order, as he picked up 5/19 from his nine damaging overs.

Moshe Rosenbaum chipped in and claimed 2/2 off three overs, to help dismiss Bentleigh for 93.

The club’s batting woes proved contagious as the Thirds found themselves in desperate trouble at 7/49, before Nadav Moskow and Wein shared in a steadying 29-run stand.

Wein remained at the crease during the tense final stages and eventually saw his side home with a match-winning knock of 34*.

The Seconds ended the home and away season on top of the Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) B-Sunday Table with 14 wins, four losses and two draws, while the Thirds finished second in the D-Sunday grade, equal on points with first but behind them on percentage, with 13 wins, five losses and two draws.

Maccabi AJAX’s Finals fixtures are as follows: The Second XI will play South Yarra in a knockout Semi Final at Como Park East this Sunday March 6, with play to commence at 11am.

The Circle of Latitude Third XI will play Parkville District in their knockout Semi Final at Flemington Rd Oval, also on Sunday March 6 at 11am.

Aaron Fetter