HAWKE'S BAY lost to HAMILTON (Zone 1 Challenger) by 64 runs
Nelson Park, Napier
15-17 March 2019
Hawke's Bay went to lunch with everything in the balance. At 39 for one in their second innings, they now knew they needed a further 296 runs from two sessions in order to hold on to the Hawke Cup. Hamilton needed nine wickets, with Ben Morris-Brown having removed opener Bayley Wiggins just four overs before the break.
Hawke's Bay meanwhile will have been relieved to have picked up Hamilton's final four wickets earlier in the first session, having dismissed the challengers for 178 to set up the final chase of the season. Paceman Liam Dudding had claimed a further two wickets to end with 3-59, Ben Stoyanoff and Jayden Lennox accounting for the remaining tailenders.
Hamilton chipped out another couple of handy wickets with the scoreboard at 52 (Jake Smith) and 90 (Brad Schmulian), before Matt Edmondson and Christian Leopard regrouped to get the Hawke's Bay 150 on the tins. Now just a further 185 runs were required, Edmondson already with a half century and looking positive.
He would be the next to fall, caught off Anurag Verma on 61, leaving Christian Leopard in charge with Angus Schaw. Leopard continued to play positively and reached his half century off 66 balls with four boundaries and three sixes included. Resuming at tea on 51*, Hawke's Bay would need a further 145 runs from the last session, with six wickets in hand. Game on for both sides.
When Joe Walker got Leopard caught behind on 60, 131 runs left to find, 22 overs left in the day, Hamilton went up in unison in delight. Now Dominic Thompson made his way to the middle with Schaw on 10* and Hamilton with the advantage. But Thompson would last only four balls before he was caught off Verma, bringing young Izaiah Lange to the middle.
When Lange fell just a handful of overs later, the end was swift for Hawke's Bay, Hamilton's Walker brothers taking five wickets between them to end the chase at 270. Hamilton had won outright by 64 runs and the Hawke Cup was once again on the move in a turbulent season, to reside with Hamilton for the winter.
A minute's silence was held before the start of play to pay respects to the victims of yesterday's Mosque attacks in Christchurch.
The cricket began on a fine morning with Hawke's Bay setting off on its first innings after having dismissed Hamilton for 287 on day one. Opening batsman Bayley Wiggins would lost three partners within the first 10 overs, however, Hamilton right back in the game early.
Wiggins had reached 29* by the time he was joined by Christian Leopard at 41 for three. Captain Jake Smith had been the first to depart in the sixth over when he was bowled by Michael Dodunski. Anurag Verma removed Brad Schmulian just two balls later, then took himself to 2-17 with the big wicket of Matt Edmondson, who had scored a double century in Hawke's Bay's previous challenge match, caught by Hamilton skipper Keir Bettley for just three runs.
Unfortunately for home town supporters Verma would strike yet again at the beginning of his next over, and this time it was Wiggins: caught on 40 at 52 for four.
Angus Schaw joined Leopard with both batsmen yet to get a run and the defenders trailing by 235, Verma's opening eight-over spell netting 3-24.
By lunch, Schaw was gone as well, caught off Freddie Walker with the hosts in trouble at 119 for five. Leopard had pushed on to 43* but he would add just one further run after the break as he became Verma's fourth victim. His five-wicket bag arrived the next over courtesy of Izaiah Lange and, despite patient Dominic Thompson's determination to hold up one end, the remainder of the line-up fell away quickly, with star of the show Verma's final wicket giving him six for 30.
Trailing by 156 on the first innings, Hawke's Bay would now need an outright victory if they were to hold onto the Hawke Cup. Late in the middle session that prospect was looking decreasingly likely with Elliot Santner and James Field having both got starts, but when Liam Dudding again removed Field, Hawke's Bay began to chip out wickets.
By stumps they were six down, with Verma having continued his excellent all-round day with a top score of 37. But, batting at four, he had also departed 18 overs before stumps, opening the door to leg-spinner Brad Schmulian to pick up a brace before stumps. Hamilton will want to extend their overnight lead of 296 with this winter's home for the Hawke Cup all resting on the final day's deeds.
The final Hawke Cup challenge of the season, and the first defence by Hawke's Bay since having uplifted the cup in Nelson two weeks earlier, got underway on a warm, clear autumn day in Napier.
Hawke's Bay captain Jake Smith won the toss and bowled, and didn't have to wait too long for pace bowler Liam Dudding to make the first breakthrough. An occasional Central Stag, Dudding trapped James Field at 15 for one, and would soon pick up two from the morning session.
Fellow Stag Christian Leopard also enjoyed an early breakthrough with the big wicket of experienced Hamilton veteran and ND A rep Michael Dodunski departing for just 16, caught by who else but Dudding who couldn't stay out of the action early doors.
Hamilton's aggressive Peter Bocock and Anish Desai steadied the ship and by lunch had put on 46 for the fourth wicket. Bocock, who earlier in the week had been keeping wicket for the BLACKCAPS at the Basin Reserve Test, fell victim to the dreaded Nelson's, caught off Ben Stoyanoff just shy of a half century: 111 for four.
Desai looked good, and had been at the crease for three hours in a crucial occupation when suddenly Jayden Lennox got one through his defences on 69. Lennox had already removed ND rep Joe Walker, who batted at six, a couple of overs earlier and Hamilton's new pair of captain Keir Bettley (who would go on to 42) and Walker's brother Freddie (a handy 67 at a good clip) took the challengers through to 198 for six at tea.
Hawke's Bay had their tails up, sniffing a good opportunity to control Hamilton's damage early in the three-day battle. The challengers would be all out for 287 on day one, two quick late wickets from Leopard ending the dig and taking the nippy young medium pacer to 3-29 off his 12.4 overs.
Dudding and Lennox each had their brace, while Stoyanoff, in his 50th game for Hawke's Bay, had also swooped in on the lower order for 3-68.
Later on during the afternoon, news reached the teams of the horrific extremist attacks in Christchurch that day which very much put the playing of sport into perspective, deeply affecting and saddening all at the ground. A minute's silence will be held before the start of play on Day Two to pay respects to the victims.