The last ball of the day, a six to win, a four for the tie — this is cricket.
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After heavy rain affected the first week of play, Benalla’s two-game contest against Beechworth at Gardens Oval became a one-day showdown.
What transpired was one of the closest matches the Wangaratta and District Cricket Association had seen all year.
The Bushrangers all but chased down the visitors’ total of 197 but were two runs short after the last ball.
Bushrangers spokesperson Trevor Saker said the side was on the back foot for most of the run chase, so to come so close was a credit to the team’s determination.
“They were probably never going to win it,” Saker said.
“We might have let them get 20 more runs than they should have, but we’ve been doing that all year.
“To get so close to end up failing is disappointing, but (Michael) Honman batted well again.
“Lucas Ham found his tune; he’s going to make a good cricketer.
“The two spinners, Sunny and Sameera (Witharana), bowled well.
“Sameera didn’t go for many runs, and it was encouraging to see Sunny back in form.
“It was a good game of cricket. It’s just unfortunate we lost.”
The Wanderers won the toss and chose to bat.
The decision paid off, with openers Clancy Ellett and Kayde Surrey putting on an impressive performance.
Beechworth had 85 runs by the time the first wicket fell, Surrey departing for 32.
The honours went to Witharana, who caught and bowled the opener.
Benalla hoped that the adage of one wicket brings two would prove true, but that was not the case.
Fifty-two runs were added to the Wanderers’ total before Gary Priest caught Ellett off a Ross Cavill delivery.
By this time, Ellett had scored a game-high 73, and the runs kept coming for the visitors.
Captain Brenton Surrey scored 56 runs while the middle order kept the runs trickling in.
After 40 overs, the Wanderers’ total was 197.
Benalla did not have the ideal start to its run chase.
Coach Priyank “Sunny” Chohan made only 18 runs, James Carboon scored five, and Daniel Brew made 10.
At 3/66, Benalla looked on the back foot, and when Ellett dismissed Honman, the game looked all but gone.
Then Cavill arrived at the crease.
He rose to the occasion, and as wickets fell around him, he continued to chip away at the score.
With one over to go, Conor Brodie and Cavill had to make 16 runs to win.
Gareth Taylor was the man with the ball in hand.
Brodie got off strike with a single from the first ball.
A second ball dot was like a dagger to the heart for Benalla.
Cavill wasn’t giving up and hit a four — 11 runs to go for victory.
With another dot ball from the fourth, the game was slipping away.
Cavill hit a six from the penultimate ball — his Benalla teammates on the sideline going into pandemonium.
A boundary of any sort to get a result from the game was the final hurdle — six to win, four to tie.
As the ball came off Cavill’s bat, it wasn’t enough.
The batters scurried through for two, but that’s all they could manage.
It was a heartbreaking end to what could have been one of the best run chases at Gardens Oval.
Benalla hits the road on Saturday, with a one-day clash at RC McNamara Reserve against Ovens Valley United.