Cricket: Central District Stags go down in nail-biter

By Anendra Singh

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CD Stags v Auckland HRV Cup T20 Pukekura Park

If they feel like the cricketing gods are playing a cruel game against them then you can't blame them.

The Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags summer of agony continued with yet another barren chapter when they lost to the Auckland Aces in New Plymouth yesterday. Defeat followed the eliminator after the sides were locked on 159 runs each in their rain-reduced 16-over affair at Pukekura Park.

The Heinrich Malan-coached Stags had battled gallantly but the visitors outplayed them in the super over of the must-win HRV Cup Twenty20 encounter.

It also marked the end of the Puke Magic streak and perhaps the onset of a special session of mind games with CD sports psychologist Gary Hermansson, of Palmerston North.

But Carl Cachopa, who was the only batsmen of three to shine in the eliminator over with an unbeaten five runs after a first-innings dig of 41 at No5, last night preferred to put it down to "that's sport".

"A few things didn't go our way and that's part of the trade so there's no excuses because we'll just have to go back to the drawing board to get better," the Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall cricketer said as captain Kieran Noema-Barnett also seeks a win in the four-day Plunket Shield competition as defending champions.

With Malan painting a six-out-of-six-on-the-trot scenario pre-match to keep CD's hopes, it is fair to say now the Stags will need a miracle in a rain-interrupted season to make the preliminary final on January 17.

Cachopa, a Black Caps prospect after a solid domestic season and NZ A tour, rued another game that came down to the wire after a last-ball, five-wicket loss to the Wellington Firebirds last month.

On the flip side, the Stags were simply delighted yesterday to have a shot at claiming full points considering persistent drizzle for days had caused ground delays amid fears play wasn't likely at one stage.

"We have to rectify that by getting into a winning position at Puke where our record is really good," said the 27-year-old allrounder before they host on a four-game trot the Firebirds tomorrow and then face the Otago Volts (January 5) and the Canterbury Wizards on their favourite venue.

"We are confident of wins in the next two games. We know how to play on this park."

The CD top order again failed to fire bar Somerset county allrounder Trego who carved up 33 runs but fellow opener Jamie How, Leicestershire county player Joshua Cobb and Will Young managed a run each.

Spinner Marty Kain's T20 consistency continued with 22 not out at No9 and 4-17 from three overs although comeback kid Bevan Small was the most frugal with 1-14 from three overs as an opening seamer after taking some punishment in the previous round.

"Marty has played really well in the T20 campaign and he was our star player again, taking wickets and nearly got us over the line from a very tough situation," Cachopa said after Kain and No11 Tarun Nethula faced the final few balls to draw the game with the latter getting run out trying to seal the winning run.

"We lost a few wickets up first so we had to fight back so the middle order again did a good job to help us claw back into the game."

Cachopa lauded youngster Small, revealing Black Caps allrounder Doug Bracewell had failed a fitness test before the game in the 13-man squad.

"His groin injury has not completely healed."

Craft and Hern Havelock North CC allrounder Ben Wheeler again ran out the snake lollies. Cachopa said it was a management decision.

Colin de Grandhomme was the Aces' hero in the super over.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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