Dismissing Bay of Plenty could be South Canterbury’s biggest challenge in their fight for the Hawke Cup starting in Rotorua today.

Hawke Cup Challenge

Hawke Cup Challenge graphic courtesy of the Timaru Herald

Bay of Plenty lifted the long-time symbol of minor association supremacy off Hamilton by scoring a huge 701 to rewrite their association’s record books.

They have five batsmen averaging over 50 while South Canterbury have only Nick Horsley consistently among the runs despite three outright victories.

Dan Laming scored 60 on his return to the team but he will need to repeat the dose in Rotorua.

With a first innings win enough to retain the cup, South Canterbury’s bowlers will need to be both dangerous and accurate.

Bay of Plenty’s batsmen have continued the runfest against Manawatu and Canterbury Country, making 559 against the latter.

Opener Joe Carter is averaging 89 in his four Hawke Cup innings, including an impressive 187 when they lifted the trophy.

The 20-year-old hit 15 fours and a six in his 436-ball stay.

His association record only lasted a short time however, with Brett Hampton overtaking him with a knock of a 194.

Hampton’s averaging 114 thanks to a 41 not out against Manawatu in the second innings.

First drop Bharat Popli has also been in the runs with an average of 69 thanks to a century and another innings of 99.

A strokemaker, it was Popli’s sixth century for Bay of Plenty, an association record.

Mitch McCann, at No 7 in the order, is also averaging over 50, showing the young side’s ability, as is Scott Steward, who at 28 is the oldest player in the side.

Backing up the batsmen is a pretty useful attack with opener Sean Davey and Tony Goodin both handy with the ball as is Hampton, who has claimed 11 wickets in three Hawke Cup matches.

South Canterbury’s main strike weapon will be English import Matt Woods backed up by fellow opener Craig Hinton.

The pair will need to strike early and regularly if they are to upset the holders, with spinner Sam Carlaw and Simon Murphy to do a lot of the donkey work.

It will take a herculean effort for South Canterbury to win the cup back after 13 years but they are in with a chance.

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