AFTER a soggy return from the Christmas break, Mount Gambier and District Cricket Association players will be keen to make an impact in the fourth round of the Big Bash Twenty20 Cup tonight.
Being the penultimate round before finals, there is plenty on the line with all teams still in the mix for a post-season ticket.
The opening stages of each clash will be crucial because rustiness will be a factor for the six sides as it has been over a month since their last completed match in the shortest format.
The first fixture takes place at McCorquindale Park between Penola and East Gambier.
Both teams will be hungry for the win, with little separating the pair between third and fourth on the ladder.
The Bulldogs batsmen will have the most to prove after being bowled out for 80 in their last match.
East will receive a boost from the return of Dion Stratford from Outbacks’ duty, which could inspire the likes of Alex Hentschke, Emerson Marks and Matthew Hastings to post a solid total.
But in their way will be an Eagles’ attack, which has the ability to knock sides over quickly.
The last time Penola played at home, it bowled Mil Lel out for just 49 and the same names will hunt for more victims.
Michael Waters will lead the assault with his economical bowling and has strong support form Daniel McNicol and Jack Mullan.
With bat in hand, the Eagles need to rise as they are yet to reach triple-figures this season.
They were bowled out for 99 in the last match, with Josh Doyle and Logan Gibbs the only men to offer any resistance.
A close contest could eventuate in Penola, with two evenly-matched sides set to fight it out.
An undefeated West Gambier will be ready for the challenge of an unpredictable North Sportsman’s outfit at Marist Park.
Another victory should see the Roos seal their position at the top of the ladder, but the home side has the ability to spring a surprise.
The hosts’ batting order will be fronted by Jake Schutz, who is the only Tiger to make a substantial impact on the competition so far.
With the ball, North has much more depth with many genuine wicket-taking options.
Declan Kenny, Matthew Robinson and Elliott Fisher claimed three each in the last match and will be ones to watch out for.
But they will face a hard-hitting West side, which has several aggressive stroke makers.
Captain Richard Crute is a game-changer, while Josh Cornolo struck four maximums in a match-winning effort in round one.
The Tigers will hope to utilise their home-ground advantage, but the Roos appear the more consistent side.
The final match of the round could be a one-sided affair at Blue Lake Sports Park between South Gambier and Mil Lel.
Despite a 50-50 record, the Demons have played well in both games and rightfully sit second on the ladder.
Meanwhile, Mil Lel is the only win-less side of the competition and must score a victory to keep its finals dream alive.
But its poor form with the bat spells trouble with 76 its top score and this trend may continue against a ruthless South bowling attack.
Led by Robert Drenthen and David Vine, the Demons have many strike bowlers.
South is also well served in the batting department, with David Somerfield, Drenthen and Jakob Opie able to score quick runs.
They will make life difficult for Mil Lel’s bowlers, who have struggled with little scoreboard pressure.
The Demons’ depth and form should prove too much for Mil Lel on home turf.
All games will start at 5.30pm.