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Sound start for Nelson in Hawke Cup Challenge

Nelson Pine Griffins have made a solid start on Day One of their Hawke Cup Challenge match against Southland at Queens Park in Invercargill. After losing opener David Zohrab to the second ball of the day Nelson fought back gallantly to finish 199/4. A second wicket partnership of 134 between skipper Greg Hay and resilient opener Thomas Zohrab provided the steel to the innings. Zohrab’s effort was outstanding and in this context may transpire to be match defining. With his skipper Hay they worked the Southland attack around the park to put some pressure on the holders.  Osborne and Domigan were tight for Southland but it was the slow leg spin of Mockford that provided the real danger.  He claimed three of the four wickets to fall and ensured all of the batsmen, especially Zohrab remained watchful.  He has faced 225 deliveries and will be looking to push on further tomorrow.

Nelson coach Ryan Edwards believes that although 16 overs were lost today there will still be at least a first innings result.  He was relatively happy with the state of play and stated, “when we lost the flick of the coin and been offered 199/4 at stumps, we would have taken it.  Going past 300 becomes key and the first session tomorrow is vital.” The wicket has bounce and turn and the Nelson bowling attack seems to be well geared up or just that possibility.  They have the left arm options of Felix Murray and Paddy Howes plus the orthodox off spinners of David Zohrab and Hay.  Provided they get through that vital first stanza in the morning Nelson will then be in the hunt for the long game.  Edwards said, “We will see where we are at lunch on Saturday and from there the plan would revolve around working backward from 6 pm Sunday evening.” It will be an intriguing Saturday in prospect and hopefully an important day for Nelson cricket.

Nelson Pine Griffins       199/4     Thomas Zohrab 88*, Greg Hay 72, Paddy Howes 16, Nic Clark 3*, Mockford 3/27

Hawke Cup Challenge Firmly in the Balance

The Nelson Pine Griffins will be looking to make early inroads into the Southland batting in an effort to bring the Hawke cup back to Nelson tomorrow. Nelson was not quite able to box on from their overnight total of 199/4 on Day Two of their challenge in Invercargill.   Play was delayed by almost three hours in the morning and about 20 overs were lost. While Thomas Zohrab completed his maiden century (266 balls, 13 x 4’s) wickets fell all too regularly for Nelson’s liking. Nic Clark shared a 61 partnership with Zohrab as the pair looked to impose themselves on the consistent home attack.  On Clark’s dismissal, however, the bowlers gained the upper hand as they applied the screws to the remaining batsmen.  Ben Lockrose, Jack Mockford, and Jason Domigan maintained something of a stranglehold as Southland ended up bowling 112 overs in the innings.  None of the rest of the batsmen got going though they all have decent batting pedigrees.  The 297 run total seemed to be a little under par for the conditions as Nelson was aiming for a three hundred run plus total.

Ben Stark matched what Southland had achieved yesterday by getting rid of opener Jared McKenzie for a duck early and also picked up number three batsman Venkat Kotte.  Remaining opener James Ng, however, dug in and mirrored Thomas Zohrab as he remains unbeaten and a real thorn in Nelson’s ambitions.  Left-arm spinner Felix Murray picked up an early scalp and has an impressive analysis of 1/9 off nine overs.   He may well be the key to the visitor’s aspirations tomorrow.

Nelson coach Ryan Edwards was reasonably upbeat about proceedings today.  “While we would always like to have had a few more runs we are pretty happy with where we are at.” He explained that “the pitch was not too hard to bat on but nor was it too easy.” He was happy with Stark who was “very good up front” But feels that the key to the victory will be winning the first session tomorrow.  Accordingly, Edwards will be discussing plans with his troops.  “The bowling group will be meeting tonight and will be devising a plan for a massive first hour tomorrow morning”.

This match is teetering on a knife edge but the Nelson boys have the bit between their teeth and will be looking to create their own piece of history tomorrow.

Nelson Pine Griffins       297         Thomas Zohrab 122, Greg Hay 72, Nic Clark 21, Jack Mockford 4/24, Jason Domigan 4/73

Southland                           108/3     James Ng 48*, Ryan Duffy 40*, Shaun Fitzgibbon 20, Ben Stark 2/25

Nelson Win Hawke Cup

The Nelson Pine Griffins have created their own slice of history be winning the Hawke Cup off Southland at Queens Park in Invercargill today.  The 36-run victory means that the Cup returns to Nelson for the first time since 1997 – a 22 year wait. Southland resumed today at 108 /3 in pursuit of Nelsons 297.  Honors were even and it was imperative that Nelson began the morning well.  A brace of early wickets by left-arm spinner Felix Murray ensured that the challengers got on the front foot.  Stubborn opener James Ng, however, bought up his fifty and was well supported by wicketkeeper Amarpreet Singh.  This pair battled away against Willie Luddick and Murray and appeared to be grasping the initiative for Southland.  Singh was the aggressor as he bought up his half-century off 61 balls with eight boundaries.  At lunch, these two were still together having added 113 for the sixth wicket and the total on 232/5. Southland were probably odds on to sneak home at this stage. The wheels well and truly fell off immediately after lunch as Sam Baxendine dismissed Singh and Ng in quick succession.  With Murray providing the ideal foil at the other end Baxendine was just too good for the tail as he polished off Jason Osborne and Ben Lockrose to complete the formalities and finish with a four-wicket haul.

Nelson coach Ryan Edwards was understandably jubilant with the result.  “This is very cool, and it is a special group of lads who have played with real pride.  They deserve everything they have achieved through working hard and sticking together.” He was wrapped with the way the team fought today, especially the patience they displayed during the 100-run partnership between Ng and Singh, “They stuck to the game plans and consistently stayed in the fight. We knew that it was only one ball away.” Edwards especially praised the way Baxendine made the 70 over old ball “talk” after lunch but was careful to spread the accolades to the entire group.

Nelson will have their first defense in a couple of weeks but for now, Edwards and his boys will “enjoy the moment.” So they should – “It’s our time!”

Nelson Pine Griffins       297         Thomas Zohrab 122, Greg Hay 72, Nic Clark 21, Jack Mockford 4/24, Jason Domigan 4/73

Southland                           261         James Ng 87, Amarpreet Singh 78, Ryan Duffy 25, Shaun Fitzgibbon 20, Sam Baxendine 4/46, Felix Murray 3/57, Ben Stark 2/25

Nelson won by 36 runs on the first innings



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