A superb bowling effort by Dinesh de Silva with 8 wickets for just 31 runs, and a maiden century (114) by Glen Drake were the catalysts for a superb team performance as South Canterbury took maximum points from their Hawke Cup match with Otago Country at Aorangi Oval to keep their challenge chances alive.
In hot conditions the Otago Country side won the toss and decided to bat first, a decision they would soon regret as they fell to 11-2 in just the eighth over as the South Canterbury opening bowlers quickly found their rhythm, line and length with Stan Mair making the initial breakthrough in just his second over.
Mair who bowled superbly on his way to 4-28 had good support from de Silva (1-19), Craig Hinton (2-28) and captain Sam Carlaw (2-30) as there was no respite for the batsmen with ‘golden arm’ Ben Watson removing Country’s best batsman, debutant Cam Jackson for 39.
South Canterbury’s fielding matched their bowling with wicketkeeper Phil Lill taking all four chances offered while Carlaw also picked up 3 catches, and a scorecard that showed zero extras was just reward as Otago Country was dismissed for 120 in the 54th over.
South Canterbury’s chase began solidly as openers Carlaw (28) and debutant George Morgan (15) saw them safely through the first hour to tea at 41-0.
After tea wickets fell and the home team was 70-4 before Drake found a solid partner in de Silva (23) and together they added 75 runs for the 5th wicket and gave South Canterbury first innings points at the same time. Despite a couple of wickets South Canterbury were happy with their day on 160-5 at stumps as they looked to only bat once with Drake 74no and Josh Smallridge (also on debut) 4no.
Day 2 dawned as warm as ever and the loss of two early wickets brought Watson alongside Drake and they quickly added 72 runs in better than even time with Drake realising the promise he has always shown with his maiden Hawke Cup century, an innings that included 22 boundaries at just under a run a ball, very impressive scoring when compared with other innings.
When Drake was eighth out with SC on 236, Watson carried on his powerful cameo before he was last out caught in the deep for 49, an innings that included 8 fours, a five and a six and gave his team a lead of 134 runs.
An early wicket to de Silva was followed by Otago Country’s best partnership of the match, as they went to lunch at 51-1.
However after lunch South Canterbury went back to their opening bowlers who delivered when de Silva, who had bowled well the whole match, was rewarded as his array of slower balls had the batsmen confounded. He started his onslaught with a diving caught and bowled to dismiss Liam Cotton for 21 and then had his team mates take a further six catches, before his figures of 7-19 at that stage were mildly damaged by the final pair of Sam Blakely and Tommy Myles as they added 34 for the last wicket to get Otago Country to 135 and require South Canterbury to bat again. De Silva’s 8-31 off 15.5 overs was great reward for a stirling effort.
Chasing 2 runs to win, one of those strange situations that can arise in cricket happened again as Otago Country’s Tommy Myles took a hatrick in his first over to have South Canterbury 0-3 before Matt Brown calmly pushed the ball into the offside for two on the 6th ball to give South Canterbury the win.
In a fortnight South Canterbury take on Southland in Invercargill and the outcome of that match may determine the challenger from Zone 4.