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Seconds storm into Grand Final

Posted: 08-Mar-2016 by Cricket Senior

Seconds storm into Grand Final

Maccabi AJAX’s Second XI withstood a mighty scare to go on and defeat South Yarra in the Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) B-Sunday Semi-Final by two wickets at Como Park on Sunday, booking their place in the club’s first grand final since season 2007/08.

That year was unique, as it saw both the First and Third XIs play off in grand finals, however only the latter managed to bring home a flag.

Club Grand Final History

The club has been starved of the ultimate success since, now, Eytan Epstein’s men-having dominated the regular season finishing on top of the ladder, find themselves in the box seat to end Maccabi AJAX’s eight-year Premiership drought.

Head-Coach Rowan Bricker's Finals themed chat with J-Air's On the Ball

Sunday’s Semi-Final couldn’t have started better for the Jackas.

After losing the toss on a batsmen’s pitch, speedster Ari Werdiger added three early wickets to his season tally of 28, leaving the home side in tatters at 4/11, just seven overs in.

The ever-reliable Dov Paltiel operated smoothly from the other end, picking up a wicket of his own.

The energy was palpable in the first hour, but to South Yarra’s credit, their middle order revived their innings, fighting fire with fire, clubbing 44 runs off the next five overs.

Josh Jones was introduced into the attack and to immediate success, as he claimed the Second’s fifth wicket to stunt the Yarra’s momentum at 5/55 in the 13th over.

Photos courtesy: AJN/Peter Haskin

Another defiant partnership kept the Jackas at bay, as skipper Epstein finally turned to experience for the answer.

Wiley medium-pacer JJ Zimmet claimed the vitally important wicket of Hasmath Hussain, South Yarra’s captain who played brilliantly for 53.

At 6/103 with 15 overs remaining, the Jackas were desperate to take the remaining four wickets quickly, but the batting side showed grit, eventually dismissed for 167 in the innings’ final over.

Photos courtesy: AJN/Peter Haskin

Dov Paltiel boasted the best figures of eight overs 3/24, while Werdiger finished with 3/36.

Both captains would have agreed that the set total was roughly 20-30 runs shy of par, considering the superb batting conditions and quick outfield.

However, the Seconds’ batting had clearly been a weakness at different times throughout the season, often losing clumps of wickets, quickly.

Openers Nochum Paltiel and Zev Aron played their characteristically streaky way early and it cost both of them their wickets inside the first half an hour, making it 2/30.

Epstein and Eitan Kooperman failed to anchor the innings, both dismissed in quick succession, leaving the Jackas with work to do at 4/50.

Photos courtesy: AJN/Peter Haskin

This brought youngsters Dean Spilkin and Reece Israel to the crease, and the pair batted maturely together, sharing in a steadying 28-run stand, before Israel was struck dead in front right on the stroke of drinks.  

Spilkin and new batsman Moishe Chaiton showed the concentration and application not seen by the top order, passing a hundred with ease.

Spilkin especially showed immense poise and class, elegantly reaching 45 before he was caught down the leg side, ending a pivotal 32-run partnership.

Photos courtesy: AJN/Peter Haskin

Chaiton was joined by Jones and as the overs ticked by so did the runs required. Needing three runs an over in the final ten with four wickets in hand seemed a relatively stress-free exercise, until Jones was bowled, immediately followed by Chaiton for a well compiled 30.

The nerves of players and supporters quickly developed into a blanket of profound tension as the game’s direction sat precariously with both batsman and bowler in the dying stages.

At 8/148 Zimmet and Dov Paltiel consumed the surrounding intensity to reach the penultimate over needing three runs for a famous victory.

Zimmet showed every ounce of experience and nerve, scoring a quick-fire 24* to guide the Twos home with nine balls remaining.

Match Scorecard

Thirds join Seconds in Grand Final feast

The Second XI will face the Melbourne Strikers in the Grand Final, this Sunday March 13 at Fawkner Park 1 with play to commence at 11am.

Aaron Fetter