North Albury head into preliminary finals with four straight wins

Ash Hulme starred with the bat and ball against the Bushies.
Ash Hulme starred with the bat and ball against the Bushies.

North Albury will head into the preliminary finals as the in-form team.

North is the only outfit to boast four straight wins, just seven weeks after the team fell out of the top six following a shock loss to East Albury.

Since then, North has scored thrilling wins against Tallangatta and Belvoir, before smashing the previously undefeated Wodonga and now Tallangatta again.

The Bushies were strangled late on day one to finish with 219, with the home side cruising to a five-wicket win with more than 10 overs remaining.

North bowled so accurately, the association’s best batsman in Indian import Sahib Malhotra’s last 23 scoring shots were singles.

“It’s just a tactic we had to try and limit them (Tallangatta) and it paid off,” captain Ash Borella said.

“The wicket at Bunton (Park) is pretty good all the time, like one of the square boundaries is around 55-60m, it’s pretty short, so you don’t want to give them any room, so they’ve got to play straight.”

Malhotra (65) and Nathan Thompson (60) produced a 95-run stand for the fourth wicket, before left-arm orthodox spinner Ash Hulme (6-41) had the latter leg before, although he felt he hit the ball.

Like one of the square boundaries is around 55-60m, it’s pretty short, so you don’t want to give them any room, so they’ve got to play straight.

Ash Borella

The Bushies weren’t helped when coach Matt Armstrong was unable to bat due to a prior commitment.

“The wicket was flat, there wasn’t much in it with the ball, but we kept working away, they made a couple of errors and we got on a roll,” Borella said.

The skipper then set the tone for his team-mates with a whirlwind half-century.

The left-hander hit 12 runs from Sam Stephens’ first over, including a nonchalant clip off the pads for six.

“It just happened I guess, you don’t really plan too much to do things like that, it can cost yourself your wicket,” he said.

At one stage, former Sri Lankan international Dilhara Lokuhettige tried to bounce him out, but he responded with a cracking pull shot for six.

“I think it was pretty defensive with 219 on the board, early in the day with the new ball,” Borella said.

“He’s a pretty good bowler, he does hoop the ball when he pitches it up.

“When it’s in there (his half of the wicket), you can’t be bowled.”

Borella did ride his luck though with one edge flying untouched through the slips from Stephens, with another difficult chance in the same over.

His 54 from just 36 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, eased the pressure for his team-mates, even though he was out in just the 11th over.

Opener Ben Paddle was patient with 36 from 129 deliveries, while Ash Hulme (49) and English import Ryan Addison (47) carried the team to within sight of victory.