By Marcus Uhe
A former great of Shepley Oval played a key role for Frankston Peninsula in ending Dandenong’s two-game winning streak in Victorian Premier Cricket on Saturday.
James Nanopoulos finished unbeaten on 75 as his side chased Dandenong’s total of 219 in the 76th over with three wickets remaining.
The veteran of more than 250 Premier Cricket games was the cool head that his side needed in a spot of bother after the top order failed to make major inroads into Dandenong’s target.
Wickets to seam bowling trio Joshua Sawrey, Matthew Wilson and Noah Hurley reduced the home side to 3/27 in the 18th over with a large task still in front of them.
When Hurley had Ryan Hammel adjudged LBW for a fighting 43, Nanopoulos came to the wicket at 4/82.
He quickly lost his partner in Brodie Symons at 5/91 meaning he and Jai Elcock had to simultaneously find their feet at the crease with the Dandenong bowlers right on top.
Elcock and Nanopoulos put on 62 for the sixth wicket before Wilson’s safe hands removed Elcock off the bowling of spinner Vishwa Ramkumar.
Ramkumar claimed the seventh wicket of the innings shortly after when Andrey Fernando caught Bailen Clarke, as the hosts fell to 7/180 with Dandenong closing in.
But Nanopoulos was the key man at the other end of the wicket, and his presence meant the Heat was always in with a chance.
In a 49-run stand with wicketkeeper and fellow former Panther Jacques Augustin, Nanopoulos played a captain’s role to guide the Heat to safety.
From 5/91, there will be a sense of a missed opportunity for Tom Donnell’s Panthers, but a lesson like this early in the campaign will be one to reflect on as the season continues.
Hurley took 3/52 for Dandenong as the standout bowler, with all the scalps coming in the top five of Frankston Peninsula’s batting card.
The Panthers sit eighth on the Premier Cricket table with two wins and two losses but boast the best percentage of all teams with that win-loss record of 1.617.
After two consecutive road games, the Panthers return to Shepley Oval next week where they’ll host Fitzroy Doncaster.