Maitland Flood skipper Mitchell Fisher is confident his side can push for finals after a groundbreaking performance in the T20 Summer Bash series on Sunday.
Maitland claimed their first win in the competition beating Belmont Whips by five wickets and then pushed the highly talented Charlestown line-up only to fall short at the end with their batting.
They play Merewether Lions and Stockton Seagulls on Sunday at Lynn Oval, in Stocktown, and victory in both games will guarantee them a spot in the qualifying finals.
"We won three of the four sessions on Sunday and I think we showed to ourselves that we belong and can compete very well in this competition," Fisher said.
"The performance against Belmont was excellent with both the bat and the ball and we deserved our win with a really good all-round performance.
"I thought we restricted Charlestown to a score that we should have been able to chase down. They are a very good team, they are second in the first grade comp and were beaten finalists in the one-day comp.
"It was a great effort by our bowlers. I thought all our spinners were excellent and Harry King was outstanding as a paceman. He really was the only pace bowler to get on top all day and to finish with 3-16 off four overs was first class.
"Every time Harry is challenged he steps up and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Newcastle clubs have a word to him about coming on board."
Maitland is expected to finalise their team on Thursday night and Fisher expects a couple of changes to strengthen the squad.
"There are a couple of players who will strengthen the team, who weren't available last Sunday, who will be considered," Fisher said. "But given COVID anything can happen with squads.
Maitland will hope both marquee players Tom Owen and Scott Burkinshaw will be available, with Owen in particular playing a crucial role in the victory against Belmont.
Owen broke an opening 35-run stand with two wickets in the seventh over.
"I thought Tom bowled very well in that first game. His turned the game with those two wickets. The other spinners took over from there," Fisher said.
"Brayden Brooks and Jordan Callinan bowled really impressive spells. I first came across Brayden playing for the Hunter Hitmen (T20 series) and was really keen to have him in the team."
Maitland restricted Belmont to 9/103 and then successfully chased down the target with 2.1 overs to spare.
The key to innings was a 42-run opening partnership between Mick Rees posting Daniel Upward. Rees made 20 off 17 balls including two sixes and Upward 22 of 25 ball.
Matt Trappel kept up the tempo with 20 off 26 balls.
A similar successful chase was expected when Maitland kept Charlestown to 7/103 but the start to the run chase could not have been worse with Rees not facing a ball run out for a diamond duck.
Four run-outs cruelled Maitland's chances and they were all out for 71.
Fisher said Charlestown's running between the wickets was superior to Maitland's and they probably picked up an extra 10 runs with quick singles and pushing for twos.
"We'll learn from that, a key thing is placement of the ball and taking the pace off it so it doesn't go as quickly to a fielder," he said.
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