By Logan Savory
Harsh Visavadiya fell agonisingly short of joining a very rare Southland cricketing club on Saturday. However, it would be wrong to paint his deeds at Queens Park with a brush tainted with disappointment.
Visavadiya’s golden summer with the bat continued in Southland’s third Hawke Cup fixture of the season against South Canterbury.
Heading into the weekend Visavadiya had produced three half centuries in as many innings for Southland and on Saturday he yet again delivered.
He racked up 199 and had the scattering of onlookers at Queens Park hanging on his every shot.
That was before cruelly the right-hand batsman was caught behind with a bottom edge when Visavadiya attempted to cut a wide delivery to bring up a double century.
Had he scored that one run required he would have joined Robert ‘Jumbo’ Anderson, Rodney Tait, and Ryan Myer as batsmen to score 200 for Southland in a Hawke Cup fixture.
Anderson scored a remarkable three Hawke Cup double hundreds during his career, including Southland’s highest ever score of 255 against Ashburton County in Invercargill in 1977.
Tait scored his double hundred against North Otago in 1988 while Myer was the last to reach the milestone scoring 206 not out against South Canterbury in Timaru in 2013.
Milestones aside, Visavadiya’s innings will still go down in Southland cricketing folklore as he struck 22 fours and seven sixes.
He brought up his 50 from 50 balls, his century came from 130 balls, he passed 150 with 171 balls at the crease and then fell for 199 after a 211-ball stay.
His knock provided the backbone to Southland’s impressive first innings total of 367 for eight before they declared late on day one on Saturday.
Handy support acts came from Venkat Kotte (48) and skipper Shaun Fitzgibbon (58).
It left South Canterbury with a tricky 17 overs to negate before stumps and Jason Osborne was able to make inroads with the new ball.
He picked up two wickets to have South Canterbury 18-2 at stumps.
As just as cruel as Visavavida’s edge on 199 was the rain for Southland on Sunday.
Outright points looked likely but with South Canterbury at 63-3 rain started to fall forcing a break.
They returned to the field but again the rain fell this time stopping play at 105-5.
At 5.10pm, and with close to 30 overs still available in the day, the teams returned yet again and Southland pounced to ensure they did get first innings points out of the game.
Ben Lockrose and Jacob Duffy picked up a wicket each to reduce South Canterbury to 107-7 before that man Visavadiya delivered again – this time the ball.
Fitzgibbon threw Visavadiya the ball and with his first two balls the wrist spinner picked up two wickets and South Canterbury were all of a sudden nine down.
The last pair of Phil Lill and Craig Hinton sent some nerves into the Southland camp with stubborn 16 over partnership which almost denied the home team first innings points.
However teenage spinner Lockrose trapped Hinton in front LBW to pick up the final wicket needed and the first innings points.
South Canterbury were bowled out for 166.
Southland now has an almost winner-takes-all showdown with North Otago in Oamaru this weekend in what is the two teams final Southern Zone fixture.
North Otago picked up maximum points on Saturday beating Mid Canterbury by an innings inside day one of the game.
A first innings or outright win for Southland, without North Otago scoring any points in Oamaru, would book Southland a Hawke Cup challenge.
H Skelt c Matthews b de Silva 19
J Ng c Lill b de Silva 9
V Kotte c Lill b Mair 48
H Visavadiya c Lill b Mair 199
S Fitzgibbon c Matthews b Mair 58
A Singh c Watson b de Silva 6
J Osborne lbw de Silva 9
J Domigan not out 3
A Tait b Mair 1
Extras (b 2, lb 7, wd 2, nb 4) 15
TOTAL: (for 8 wickets declared, 88.1 overs) 367
Fall: 1-14 (Ng, 5.4), 2-42 (Skelt, 13.4), 3-172 (Kotte, 51.2), 4-320 (Visavadiya, 82.6), 5-349 (A Singh, 85.2), 6-358 (Fitzgibbon, 86.2), 7-366 (Osborne, 87.5), 8-367 (Tait, 88.1)
S Mair 24.1-4-103-4,
J de Silva 23-3-92-4,
B Watson 7-1-44-0,
C Hinton 11-0-55-0,
S Carlaw 23-5-64-0.
G Morgan c Ng b Osborne 0
S Carlaw b Tait 23
L Beck c Singh b Osborne 2
G Drake c Singh b Duffy 23
J Smallridge lbw b Duffy 7
G Matthews b Duffy 32
J de Silva c Visavadiya b Lockrose 3
P Lill not out 40
B Watson c Tait b Visavadiya 8
S Mair b Visavadiya 0
C Hinton lbw Lockrose 6
Extras (b 3, lb 6, wd 2, nb 11) 22
TOTAL: (for 10 wickets, 65.5 overs) 166
Fall: 1-2 (Morgan, 3.2), 2-4 (Beck, 5.3), 3-43 (Drake, 22.3), 4-64 (Carlaw, 29.4), 5-83 (Smallridge, 34.5), 6-107 (Matthews, 40.5), 7-107 (de Silva, 41.1), 8-140 (Watson, 49.1), 9-140 (Mair, 49.2), 10-166 (Hinton, 65.5)
J Duffy 27-5-65-3,
J Osborne 14-7-35-2,
B Lockrose 9.5-7-17-2,
J Domigan 5-2-10-0,
A Tait 6-2-21-1,
H Visavadiya 4-2-9-2