Anticipation settled over Victoria Park.
It was the fifth ball of the Endeavour Hills innings, and John Hastings stood at the top of his mark, about to bowl to Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Eight balls later, it was Hastings steaming in to Lahiru Thirimanne.
This fixture between Kew and Endeavour Hills on Saturday was no ordinary Sub-District match.
Between Kew’s Hastings, and Endeavour Hills pair Dilshan and Thirimanne, they have 130 Tests, 486 ODIs and 115 Twenty20s of experience.
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And all three would make their presence felt in the season-starter.
But it was Kew skipper Christopher Weeks (53) and opening partner Matthew Brown who took control early, compiling a 67-run opening stand after the hosts were sent in to bat. The pace of Chris Pereira (1-48 off nine overs) eventually broke the partnership, skittling Brown for 28.
Kew continued scoring at a comfortable rate, before Gayan De Silva (2-61 off nine overs) picked up two wickets in quick succession to bring Hastings to the crease.
Hastings’ stature alone was enough to capture attention, but it wouldn’t take long for his batting to do the same, belting his second ball over mid-wicket for six.
From there the ex-Australian international scored at a deceptively quick rate.
His 44-ball 64 included four maximums, each one eye-catching.
Hunting the prized wicket of Hastings, Pereira gifted him a potentially damaging life, having put down an outfield chance.
Fortunately for the Hills their opening quick would make amends, executing a dynamic run-out to dismiss the danger man before he could face another delivery.
David Wildsmith (31) was still at the crease when Hastings departed, but fell to the left-arm orthodox of Hemantha Jayasundera (1-52 off nine) in the next over.
The loss of both set batsmen stunted Kew’s momentum, but Jack M Carroll (25 off 16) provided some late-innings gusto, unfazed by the aura of Dilshan as he crunched the decorated Sri Lankan international for back-to-back sixes.
Kew finished its 45 overs at 6-246, a total that proved too much for Endeavour Hills’ star-sprinkled batting line-up.
Tom Chalkley dismissed both Eagles openers before they could fire a shot, Brown taking a spectacular one-handed catch at slip to claim Dilshan (16 off 11).
The formidable partnership of Lahiru Thirimanne and Susantha Pradeep was called upon to steady the ship.
Thirimanne, a current Test cricketer and fourth on the Test run chart this calendar year, and Pradeep, a former first-class player with 12 Subbies to his name, didn’t put their experience to waste.
Thirimanne oozed elegance with a technique that bordered on beautiful, brilliantly cutting and driving his way to an 84-ball 64.
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Pradeep played a superb supporting role, compiling a 46-ball 32 before being castled by the left-arm orthodox of Jack Carroll – not to be confused with Jack M Carroll.
Nav De Silva (22 off 21) provided a handy cameo, but then support for Thirimanne dwindled.
As a result, the left-hander began to err on the side of the caution, somewhat to the detriment of his free-flowing scoring.
Wickets continued to fall at the other end, and it was time for Thirimanne to accelerate. He met his match when a mistimed slog sweep landed in the hands of Hastings at mid-wicket, Carroll (3-35 from his eight overs) the benefactor.
The Hills tail limped to 172 all out, falling 74 runs short.
Jack Davidson also impressed with the ball, taking 4-32 from nine overs.
It was a strong showing from a Kew side that has looked internally for growth following the departure of star Will Sheridan and last season’s surprise grand final loss. Also seen in Herald Sun/Leader Local Sport