The fate of most teams’ Cricket Shepparton Twenty20 campaigns will go on the line tonight.
With just one round of matches remaining before the final after tonight’s clashes — in the A-grade and lower-grade competitions — the flag hopes of many sides rest on tonight’s results.
The North Central A-grade section is so evenly poised that four of the five outfits remain a realistic chance of progressing through to the February 15 decider.
Numurkah and Katandra sit equal on 12 points at the top of the table, while Central Park-St Brendan’s and Northerners have claimed one win apiece.
Karramomus is the only team that cannot make the final, as it has yet to open its account and competes in its last fixture tonight.
The Bloods will be looking to finish the competition in style though with a big upset win against the Eagles at Vibert Reserve.
Katandra remains undefeated in the shortest format, but relinquished top spot to the Blues last week after having the bye.
Numurkah will likely find itself in the same position after tonight’s contests as it watches from the sidelines.
The Tigers and Jets each need to claim victory when they battle at Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve, as the loser will need a miracle to advance.
Conversely, the Western Shepparton section is almost completely decided.
Kyabram has won all three of its clashes so far this season and another triumph tonight against Tatura would be enough to book its place in the grand final.
The match will be under lights at Kyabram Recreation Reserve, with the Redbacks keen to draw another big crowd.
Old Students have drawn the bye tonight, but will be cheering for Tatura in order to remain a chance to progress.
The Students are a game and a healthy amount of percentage behind the section leader, but a Redbacks loss would mean Luke McPhillamy’s charges’ fate would be in its own hands next week.
Mooroopna is looking for a big win against Shepparton United in the final match of the division.
The Cats also need Tatura to bring Kyabram back to the pack, but must first take care of a plucky United at Mooroopna Main Oval.
The Redbacks also lead the way on the batting table, with Cade Mueller’s 135 runs at 67.5 the top of the tree.
Northerners invitational player Tom Milnes remains second on 106 at 53, while Numurkah import Michael Eckard (105 at 52.5), Mooroopna gun Will Hale (104 at 52) and Karramomus’ Adam Bovell (90 at 30) round out the top five.
●Lower-grade short-format players will be itching to return to the field tonight.
The competition has only three pool rounds, so teams have not played since January 11.
In the Country section, Pine Lodge and Invergordon go head-to-head at Lemnos tonight, while Dookie and Northerners will face-off at Congupna.
The Jets and Invergordon claimed first-up victories in the tournament, so could set up a sudden-death showdown next week with another pair of wins tonight.
A similar situation could occur in the City section.
Mooroopna and Murchison lead the way on the ladder after tasting success in round one, but again face differing opposition tonight.
The Cats will travel to Vibert Reserve to take on the Bloods, while Murchison will host Central Park-St Brendan’s.
No batsman made it to a half-century in the first round of action, so top-order sloggers across the region will be targeting the milestone tonight.