Victoria managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for the second week in succession on Saturday.
Victoria travelled to Drumaness, looking to make up for their disappointment at Academy the previous week. On winning the toss, Victoria chose to bat, with David Reiman and Matthew Parks taking to the middle for the visitors.
Both opening batsmen looked comfortable immediately, but contrived to get themselves out; as Reiman (7) called a poor run and Parks’ (5) feet appeared glued to the crease as he got bowled by a straight one.
This left Victoria two down, with only 7 overs gone and brought Adam McClelland and Ajmal to the wicket. Ajmal went on an assault of the Drumaness bowling, dispatching them over the straight boundary regularly as he raced to 50, ably supported by McClelland.
McClelland departed for 19, following an 89 partnership, before Ajmal brought up his maiden century in only the 23rd over, as he hit 9 sixes and 9 fours in a remarkable innings.
Babar Khan departed for 5, followed shortly by Ajmal, who finally fell for 102, leaving Victoria on 154 at drinks, but with 5 wickets down.
A 37 run partnership between Garry McClune and Jonathon Bunting looked as if it would guide Victoria to a big total, before McClune departed for 19. Bunting guided Victoria past the 200 mark for only the second time this season, before he was dismissed for 24.
The tail managed to add some crucial runs as Glenn Thompson, Jordan Walsh and Caleb Boomer all found the boundary as they scored 9 each, with Walsh unbeaten, leaving Victoria all out for 231, leaving 7 overs unused.
Victoria were aware of Drumaness’ ability at the top of the order, and knew that early wickets would be key to defending their total.
Victoria were able to apply early pressure, leading to a run out chance early on, before Garry McClune made the breakthrough thanks to a catch from Walsh in the sixth over.
Unfortunately, Victoria’s fielding fell apart after this, with numerous misfields, but more crucially numerous dropped catches.
A 96 runs partnership was allowed to develop as both batsmen were dropped on multiple occasions; each drop proving costly. Neill Walsh was caught by Ajmal for 28 off the bowling of Bunting and this was followed by another breakthrough by Bunting.
Drumaness were 128-3, needing a further 103 off the remaining 22 overs with their last two recognised batsmen Gelston and Cunningham at the crease.
Again, Victoria’s fielding let them down as Cunningham was dropped twice early on. Gelston was eventually dismissed for 86 in the 36th made the most of his multiple chances.
The pressure was now on Cunningham as the batsmen at the other end just tried to survive. Cunningham brought up his 50 just before his partner was dismissed by Reiman.
Drumaness now needed 17 from their remaining four overs. Cunningham was left to try and guide the home side to victory.
It looked as though Drumaness would enter the last over needing 7 from it to win, before the batsmen clubbed a big six to draw the score level and Drumaness finished the job in the final over.
Victoria will rue this result, having let eight points slip, which would have seen them very close to safety, in the last week.
The failure to bat seven overs was crucial and it was disappointing that seven batsmen were bowled, while one was run out.
However, an average display in the field would have been enough to see Victoria across the line, as a glut of chances went begging, leaving Victoria with no one to blame but themselves.