South Canterbury gambled on spin and came up trumps to win a pulsating opening Hawke Cup fixture against Otago Country by 27 runs at Aorangi Oval yesterday.
The team’s two left arm off-spinners, Sam Carlaw and Glen Drake, combined to take 13 wickets in the match, as South Canterbury won a match of many momentum shifts in unlikely fashion.
Carlaw had set up the win by taking four late wickets on the first day.
South Canterbury had been skittled for just 193 after being asked to bat, but Carlaw’s late strikes had Otago Country 105 for six at stumps.
Carlaw returned yesterday and picked up another wicket to end with five for 39 from 23 overs.
First innings points were secured, and a 46-run lead gained, when Otago Country were dismissed for 147.
South Canterbury’s top-order failed throughout the match and they did not learn for their collective first innings mistakes, with tame dismissals a regular sight for both teams.
Veteran Andrew Buckingham made 52 to hold the first innings together and added 22 in the second effort.
Jack Harper also had his moments on debut at No 3, making 44 in the second innings before getting a rough decision from the umpire.
However, it was the effort of two younger debutantes with the bat in both innings which pleased coach Robin Beeby the most.
Roncalli College wicket-keeper Adam Beck made 25 and 18, while Temuka bowler Nathan McNicol made 30 and 34 to go with three wickets with the ball.
Even with their efforts, South Canterbury were dismissed for 156 the second time around, leaving the visitors 203 to win from a minimum of 45 overs.
Otago Country looked set to lose the battle but win the war at 92 for one until Drake was thrown the ball.
The 19-year-old had been sparingly used as a bowler at Hawke Cup level, but proved his worth as he formed a good partnership with Carlaw to stifle the visiting batsmen.
While many of the dismissals were soft on a quality batting pitch, Drake built pressure and was rewarded with his first five wicket haul that cost him 46 runs.
Otago Country lost their last nine wickets for 82 runs and were dismissed for 175 with 15 minutes to go before the end of play.
Sam Blakely was the last visiting wicket to fall, which was a shame for the right-arm quick bowler.
His sedate run-up but high pace shoulder-fuelled action had been a constant threat with the ball all match, taking seven South Canterbury scalps in the process.
Beeby said with Carlaw bowling so well, they decided to try Drake and see what happened.
“I was just relieved to get the first innings points, so to get the outright is fantastic. By taking the pace off it, it proved harder to hit the ball so that was the idea behind (bringing Drake on).
“We knew if we could break their partnerships up the top that we could get through them and we did. We want to be able to bat down to eight or nine and with (McNicol and Beck) we get to do that. We just need the top-order firing.”
He said Buckingham added plenty to the team with his vast experience.
“We’re very lucky to have him. His experience is invaluable, it helps everyone out.”
Beeby said he was thrilled for the five players on debut even if the batting was still a concern.
South Canterbury’s next Hawke Cup match is on January 25 and 26 versus North Otago in Oamaru. They will have a two-day warm-up game against Canterbury Country at Aorangi Oval on January 11 and 12.