Round 1 of the T20 competition could almost be labelled Harry Manenti versus the rest.
Desert Blaze won the toss and elected to bat and with openers James Seymour (25) and Isaac Conway (23) pounding the Southern Storm bowlers to all parts of the ground, and beyond, a huge total looked likely. Step up Harry Manenti, and in the blink of an eye, he got rid of Seymour and the dangerous Kierran Voelkl to have Blaze on the back foot, however, classy batting from Luke Shelton (39) and Dean Fry (30) got their side to a respectable 7-160 after the allotted 20 overs. For good luck, Manenti got rid of Udara Weerasinghe late in the innings to finish with a decent 3-28 off his four overs.
Storm opened the batting with Josh Neill and Manenti. Neill went early as did Kyle Scrimegour at three, but it really didn’t matter because Manenti (47 off 15 balls; 5x4 and 3x6) and Jackson Isakka (81) were domineering and the result was never in doubt. Storm (5-162) ran down the total in a mere 16.5 overs and set a standard that Blaze must try to achieve.
Round 2 gets underway at DXC Arena on Sunday at 2.00pm and while in Round 1, the Desert Blaze batting started at a rollicking pace, wickets fell needlessly and only Luke Shelton seemed to bat with any degree of resolve. It may be worth coach Udara Weerasinghe tasking one of his top three to be at the crease during the final flurry which may just ice the batting cake.
On the other hand, Storm coach Marc Calkin, who is a hard man to please, may just take time to reflect and presume, probably correctly, that Harry Manenti and Jackson Isakka will need some serious assistance if his side is to maintain its winning ways.
The Storm batting looks sound especially if Josh Neill makes the most of his opportunities at the top of the order, but the bowling seems to be the more fragile element with only fast man, Tom Pinson, able to cause serious concern. Notwithstanding a lack of real penetration, medium pacers Harry Manenti, Jackson Isakka and Kyle Scrimegour together with off-spinners Matt Hammond and Coby Edmondstone will once again need to be economically disciplined.
TIO Men’s Strike League – Rd 1 Result.
Southern Storm 5-162 (16.5) (Jackson Isakka 81, Harry Manenti 47; Phillip Hull 2-20) d Desert Blaze 7-160 (20) (Luke Shelton 39, Dean Fry 30; Harry Manenti 3-28).