MOLONG has confirmed its standing as one of the teams to watch heading into the finals of the 2012-13 Royal Hotel Cup, completing the pool stage of the competition undefeated thanks to a last-over four-wicket win over Centrals.
Played at Wade Park on Friday night, Centrals won the toss and batted first, posting a competitive 7-140 from 20 overs.
Wes Roweth and Nick Dunlop did the bulk of the big hitting, smashing 42 and 37 respectively on their way to what could have easily been a score of 150-plus.
But any hopes of a big total were dashed when the ball was handed to Jye Barrow.
Barrow nabbed the tournament’s first hat-trick, claiming the wickets of Roweth, Matt Tedeschi (duck) and then Matt Weller (duck) to bring up the feat and help restrict Centrals to 140, a target Molong have reached in each of their previous Twenty20 outings.
This time, however, things started shakily, with Dan Sandford (3-22) taking the scalps of the top three Molong batsmen to leave them reeling at 3-30.
But experienced pair Nigel Brazier (49) and Wazza Fazakerley (43 not out) put on 80 for the fourth wicket before Brazier was run out by Sandford late in the 16th over.
Still with some work to do, needing a run a ball over the final four overs, Fazakerley’s unbeaten knock guided Molong home in the final over - the side’s third win from three Pool B games - and secured its stance as a premiership threat this summer.
Molong skipper Trent Frazer was over the moon that his side’s batting, again, got them out of jail.
“That’s it. I don’t think our bowling has been bad, but that’s the nature of Twenty20 cricket. We can always improve on our fielding,” he said.
“It’s been good to see the batting doing well. Right through our order, someone has stood up.
“Centrals came out firing. They’re a really good bunch of blokes to play against.”
For Centrals, it left them winless from three Royal Hotel Cup games this summer, although Friday night’s four-wicket loss to Molong was easily the side’s best Twenty20 display of the season.
Captain Jarrod Simpson was proud of the improved effort and believes should Molong continue to fare as well as they have over the opening three games of the season with the bat, they’ll be hard to stop come the cup’s semi-final and maybe final.
“If they bat like that they will,” Simpson said.
“Their fielding’s not that crash hot and their bowling isn’t excellent, but their batting is good and it’s what’s winning them games.”
“We batted well, generally did everything a lot better (than previous games). Our fielding was better as well but towards the end they batted well. They hit the ball to the boundary very well.”
Next Friday night Blayney plays Cavaliers at Wade Park.