ACT Comets young gun Matt Condon had the perfect tune-up for his Sydney first-grade debut for Michael Bevan's Easts, testing himself against international side Afghanistan at Manuka Oval on Friday.
But it was a small band of vocal Afghanistan supporters who were cheering in the end, with the visitors producing a thrilling final-over victory after chasing down the Comets' total of 266 with three wickets in hand.
Condon will spend the summer in Sydney under the guidance of Australia's greatest-ever one-day batsman, Bevan.
He didn't get off to the best start though, getting a golden duck in last weekend's trial game, but he takes some form into Saturday's first-grade debut after scoring 45 for the Comets.
"I went down there for a trial game. Unfortunately, I got snicked off the first ball, which didn't really help, but I had a little bit of a chat to [Bevan] about pathways coming through the ACT and my future there. It was good to catch up with him," Condon said.
"My first chance to impress up there in first grade. A couple of big names – Nic Maddinson and Pete Nevill – are playing, so [I have] an opportunity to play with some of the top boys [from NSW]."
Tamworth batsman Andrew Harriott (66 runs) was the backbone of the Comets' innings, but they continued to lose wickets throughout. If it wasn't for some lusty hitting by Daniel Magin (32 not out), they wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the total they did.
Originally from Newcastle, Magin was playing cricket in England during winter when he got a call from Comets coach Mark Higgs.
Magin won't play in the second game against Afghanistan at Manuka on Sunday and he was unsure whether he did enough to get a spot with the Comets this summer, but he didn't do his chances any harm by also picking up two wickets.
"I was in England and Higgsy gave me a call to see if I was interested and I thought it was a good opportunity," Magin said.
"I've been bashing away in Sydney for a couple of years. [This was] a good opportunity to play higher cricket, and obviously play against international teams."
The Comets appeared to have Afghanistan in trouble, needing more than 10 runs an over for the final seven overs, but with five wickets in hand, Afghanistan was able to get the runs, thanks to some clever hitting by Shafiqullah Shafiq (22 off 12 balls) and Gulbadin Naib (22 off 10).
AT A GLANCE
Afghanistan 7-268 (Nawroz Mangal 85, Nasir Jamal 41, Daniel Magin 2-48) bt ACT Comets 266 (Andrew Harriott 66, Matthew Condon 46, Aftab Alam 4-41)