Cricket: Bay crash back down to earth

By Ben Guild

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Prolific Bay of Plenty batsman Bharat Popli top scored with 90 in Bay of Plenty's well-timed pursuit of Counties Manukau's total on the first day of the Brian Dunning Cup.
Prolific Bay of Plenty batsman Bharat Popli top scored with 90 in Bay of Plenty's well-timed pursuit of Counties Manukau's total on the first day of the Brian Dunning Cup.

There was plenty for Bay players to celebrate on the first day of the Brian Dunning Cup one day competition in Taupo, but the tide turned for the team yesterday.

The Bay fell short in their run chase against a Northland team stung into action by a loss to a Poverty Bay team including a number of Bay of Plenty Development players.

The result throws the competition wide open and means Bay of Plenty likely need a victory against Hamilton today to keep their campaign on track.

Bharat Popli top scored with 94 in the Bay's pursuit of 225/8, but lacked support from the other end as the chase stagnated.

The innings ended nine runs short on 216/8 and the Bay will likely need some batsman to step up in what is essentially a grudge match today.

The reigning champion Bay side, looking to back up the most successful season in the history of the association in which it filled the cupboard with plenty of silverware, chased down a large Counties Manukau total in fine fashion on Sunday.

Set a daunting 275/5 to chase in 50 overs, coach Ben Williams altered the batting order to great effect.

Captain and normally opening batsman Peter Drysdale was dropped down to number six, allowing fellow Mount Maunganui batsman Tim Clarke to throw his hands at the top of the order.

The gamble came off, with Clarke compiling 75 to set up the innings for the outstanding Popli.

Popli, who has scored heavily for the Bay in previous seasons, again underlined his class by stroking a controlled 90 to place the Bay in the box seat throughout the chase.

An atypical innings from bona fide salt grinder Drysdale followed to take the contest away from Counties.

His 40 runs from just 19 deliveries, consisting mainly of unconventional paddle sweeps and front foot pull shots against the pace bowlers, meant the Bay got home with three balls and four wickets to spare.

"It was fantastic, a great group effort from the boys," said Williams.

"The run chase was outstanding. The boys laid a great foundation, retained wickets and played clever cricket the whole way through the 50 overs.

"It was pretty well in hand for the entire innings. It was always going to require someone to play a little cameo and when you've got wickets in hand it's certainly very doable and Pete did that for us.

"Baz [Popli] was his outstanding self and Tim [Clarke] played a good knock, then Pete [Drysdale] played an uncharacteristic innings at the end. It was a real testament to his application in the winter."

Williams was less pleased with the bowling and fielding units but said they would improve as the week went on.

"We bowled both sides of the wicket and we weren't as clinical as we normally are.

"Our fielding standard wasn't up to normal but obviously, with the first game of the season, you can accept that and move on and improve."

Elsewhere, more Bay of Plenty players were flying the flag for their home association in the guise of Poverty Bay colours.

The struggling area has again been topped up by Western Bay of Plenty players keen to help both their own chances of playing for the Bay of Plenty and the chances of their good mates retaining the spoils.

Josh Bates top scored with 38 and Mount Maunganui's Alex Gooding added 37 as Poverty Bay were dismissed for 193 in their final over.

Te Puke all-rounder Jermey Bates then ripped the heart out of Northland's vaunted batting line-up in a boil over, claiming 5/21 from his 10 overs.

"Jeremy Bates bowled like a man possessed for Poverty Bay yesterday apparently," said Williams.

"Northland has got an extremely strong side filled with the Parlanes, the Yovichs, the Marshalls, Kneebones, Hydes, Coopers - some really promising players."

Counties Manukau 275/5 (Cameron Fletcher 115, Luke Wlliamson 82; Tony Goodin 42/3) lost to Bay of Plenty 276/6 (Tim Clarke 75, Bharat Popli 90, Peter Drysdale 40 no; Tom Urry 51/3, Michael Schofield 6/3).

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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