NZCT NATIONAL CLUB CRICKET CHAMPIONSHIP 2018
Cornwall (Auckland) v Napier Tech Old Boys' (CD)
The home team was 230 for one. The visitors' body language was flat as a Nelson Park day four deck as they fanned out around the boundary. This was not going well for the Texans as the two unbeaten sides went head to head.
Having been asked to bat first on the big number one ground in a match reduced to 45 overs, Cornwall captain Michael Guptill-Bunce and Jamie Hayes were making light work of the task.
After a watchful start and an early wicket to the Napierites that saw the pair united at 30 for one in the eleventh over, Guptill-Bunce began to carve away, at his free flowing best en route to posting a resounding 132 off 100 balls, the knock including 12 fours and three sixes.
He had sound support from Jamie Hayes (below), who played the perfect anchorman role, rotating the strike well and running hard at the back end of the innings.
Hayes would finish with an unbeaten 90 as they led the way for the hosts with their massive 200-run partnership, Guptill-Bunce finally dismissed by Christian Leopard (below) after more than two hours of taking charge.
Surely it was advantage Cornwall, what with 266 from the 45 overs posted on their tins, and then an early strike with ball to boot to have the red lads six for one, and Christian Leopard removed not long after?
However, the Napier Tech middle order again stood up, first drop Izaiah Lange simply superb as he again calmly anchored the innings for his side.
Lange backed up his match-winning performance from the previous day with an unbeaten 91 off 127 balls yet, with half a dozen overs to go, the side still needed to get up over a required run rate that was nudging into double figures, the autumn light beginning to fade and showers chilling the ground.
After a steadying 41-stand with Indika Senarathne (above), Lange had support from Todd Watson (below) who boosted the strike rate with a quick 46 off 41 balls.
When Watson was caught with just under a dozen overs remaining, the Texans still needed a further 107 runs, and the odds continued to favour the hosts.
Having already lost their first choice wicketkeeper to a nasty blow on the ankle the previous day, star batsman Jesse Ryder was also in the wars, having dropped down the order with back pain.
Nevertheless, the big left-hander wandered in at number six and blasted 67 off just 36 balls (7x4, 3x6) to see his side home, helping slam 21 off a clutch over at the death before hitting the winning boundary with just one ball to spare in the heart-stopping finish.
Teja Nidamanuru had begun that last over with two dots, and Cornwall's hopes of remaining unbeaten were still alive with the Texans needing eight off it — then three off the last two balls — until the ultra-experienced Ryder swatted that fifth ball to the fine leg fence to secure the six-wicket victory, the Texans rushing onto the field en masse.
Ryder and Lange ultimately put on an unbroken stand of 109 off 69 balls for the clutch win.
With rain forecast for Saturday and Finals due to be played on Sunday, the result may well have bumped hosts Cornwall out of the 1v2 Final, with Napier Tech and Wellington's Onslow the only remaining undefeated teams after this year's weather-affected tourney.
Rain has washed out Saturday's Round Five matches.
Sunday's national finals will be:
1v2: Onslow (Wellington) v Napier Technical Old Boys (CD)
3v4: Cornwall (Auckland) v Burnside West (Canterbury)
5v6: Pukekohe Metro (ND) v North East Valley (Otago)