Keira looking to capitalise with bat when Cricket Illawarra clash resumes

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Keira captain Kyle Connor is determined to ensure his team can succeed where others have stumbled when the Lions clash with Balgownie resumes on Saturday. For the second-straight match, the defending premiers have struggled with the bat, and while their bowlers were able to lift them to a come-from-behind victory against Wests, they are sure to face a much tougher task this weekend. After bowling Balgownie out for 140, the Lions will resume at 1-67. Connor is expecting a hostile opening hour of play, however, he’s confident his batsmen can battle through to secure first-innings points. “It was a good toss to win, have a bowl and get on the front foot,” Connor said. “We did a good job and knocked them over for a chaseable score. “Last season at Keira Village there was always a little early on for the bowlers, so we expect they’ll push hard for the first hour and see if they can get their tail up and build some momentum. “We’ve got to focus on keeping the good balls out, doing what we did in the afternoon on Saturday, putting the bad balls away and putting the pressure back on them. The last thing we want is for them to take a clump of wickets early and put us under pressure.” With the Lions trailing by 73 runs, Balgownie captain Graeme Batty knows his team must strike early if they are to have any chance of pulling off the victory. Despite the state of play, he is confident his team will not go down without a fight. “It will be a lot tougher than the Wests game,” Batty said. “The wicket will be good for batting, so it will be a tough ask for our boys to get over the line. Jamie Fleming is going to have to pull something out of the bag to rescue this game. “With us, it doesn’t matter how many runs we’re defending, we’re always in with a chance. We have to break through early and see how the game pans out. “We have to put a lot of pressure on Mark Johnston and Neel Honavar. If we can get those two early, it will go a long way to pulling off the victory.” With a congested ladder and the Christmas break looming, Connor recognsies the importance of his batsmen digging in to ensure they capitalise on the commanding position they’re in at the midway point. “This is massive for us,” Connor said. “I said to the boys on Saturday, we’ve managed to get ahead of the game, it’s very important we finish off the job. The ball’s in our court, we should win this game, but we don’t want to take the foot off the pedal.” In Saturday’s other matches, University’s batsmen will need to fire if they are to topple ladder leaders Wollongong. Resuming at 0-8, Uni are chasing 259. Wests will resume at 5-68 in their clash with Helensburgh, after Udara Jayasundara helped skittle the Tigers for 111. Resuming at 3-62, Northern Districts sit in pole position as they attempt to chase Port Kembla’s first-innings score of 81. Finally, Corrimal hold a slight edge over Dapto and will resume at 3-40 in reply to the Canaries 138.

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