Challenge Match - Zone 3
[Holder] Canterbury Country lost to [Challenger] Nelson on the first innings
Mainpower Oval, Rangiora
29-21 January 2021
Nelson will host the Zone 4 challenge from North Otago, in Nelson 12-14 February 2021
DAYS TWO & THREE
After a marathon first innings battle from both teams, Nelson is taking the Hawke Cup home after winning the first Challenge Match of 2020/21 at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval on the first innings.
Challenger Nelson and holder Canterbury Country fought tooth and nail after Nelson had posted 365 in its first dig, on the back of patient centuries from opening batsman Nic Clark (172, carrying his bat through the entire first day's play on Friday) and number six Joey O'Connor (120).
The pair put on a mammoth 271 for the fifth wicket to give Nelson the edge, after the challengers had lost a string of big cheap wickets.
At 162/8 in reply, Canterbury Country was not looking likely to hold onto their precious silverware that they had won in last summer's penultimate Challenge, and defended against Otago Country in one match subsequently late last season.
But a courageous 117-run partnership between number nine Zak Foulkes and number 10 and Canterbury first-class rep Fraser Sheat - better known for his quick bowling - saw the hosts get remarkably close to hauling in the key first innings target.
Former NZ Under 19 rep and allrounder Thomas Zohrab was the hero of the day for the Nelson Griffins as he finally, after much sweat and toil, had Sheat caught on 76.
After a further 46 was put on for the last wicket, Zohrab then claimed the vital last wicket of Foulkes (a fighting 92 off 255 balls) when Canterbury Country was just 40 runs behind Nelson's first innings total.
The Nelson Griffins will now host the Zone 4 Challenge from North Otago in a fortnight's time.
Nelson last held the Hawke Cup in 2019, breaking a 22 year-drought for the once formidable province after they successfully challenged Southland for the historic provincial silverware.
Nelson opening batsman Nic Clark has batted through the entire first day of the Hawke Cup Challenge match in Rangiora to dig his side out of early trouble and put Nelson in a good position.
Challengers Nelson were in strife at 57 for four inside the first 20 overs, after their captain Brendan Hodgson had won the toss and batted at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval, after a short ground delay.
Fraser Sheat, Zak Foulkes and Sam Chamberlain - with the big wickets of Greg Hay and Harsh Visavidya, had all struck early for Hawke Cup holders Canterbury Country.
But Clark stayed put, then led a massive fightback throughout the rest of the day alongside willing accomplice Joey O'Connor.
By stumps, the pair had piled on a massive, unbroken 190-run partnership for the fifth wicket to take Nelson from 57/4 to 274/4 after 99 overs.
The tough Clark was unbeaten on 121* while O'Connor was nearing his own century, set to resume on 93* after five hours at the crease.