Sunshine United dig in for flag win

Sunshine United bowler Leigh Sheridan. Picture Mark Wilson

Sunshine United produced a gutsy final day effort to secure the draw it needed to clinch the Victorian Turf Cricket Association north-west division premiership.

Set a massive 414 for victory, the Tigers were robbed of a full day’s play when Saturday was washed out.

But that meant they needed only to avoid losing 10 wickets on day four to be crowned premiers.

The Tigers had no issues on the final day, finishing on 3-219 off 96 overs.

Tigers captain Neeten Chouhan said two factors worked in their favour – a pitch that aided the batsmen and a positive mindset.

“The wicket was slightly dried, which made it a bit more harder to play shots, but … it was still a good batting wicket and they had to grind really hard to get any wickets,” he said. “We made sure we stayed positive.”

Chouhan played a captain’s knock of 79. He combined with Scott Dalrymple (56) and Sangaran Nandhalal (46) to frustrate the life out of the Haig Fawkner bowlers.

“It was important we didn’t expose the tail to the nervousness of just trying to block out,” Chouhan said. “It was hard going – they bowled really well and they had a second new ball, which got wickets.”

Sunshine United’s batsmen were under siege all day.

The Haig Fawkner players were lippy and fielded around the bat, and their bowling was spot-on for the most part.

But the Tigers blocked out the noise, played their game and got the desired result.

“They were pretty boisterous and had six or seven guys around the bat,” Chouhan said.

“It was a typical, hard four-day type of cricket, but that made the win very sweet.”

It was a redemption game for Sunshine United. The Tigers wanted to avoid at all costs the feeling they experienced in losing a grand final to Seddon last summer.

“We’ve known the other side of the coin – losing in a game when the opposition scored over 400 runs,” Chouhan said.

“This year, we made sure we stayed focused throughout the four days.”

The flag win has secured promotion to the VTCA’s top division for the Tigers.

For coach Terry Nicholls, that is mission accomplished.

The Tigers will celebrate the success, but it will not be long before Nicholls is back in planning mode for their return to the senior division.