Day 2, Plunket Shield
Nelson Park, Napier
It sort of begs the famous quote from the American classic, When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, except it would go something like this: "I'll have what he's having."
That's probably what first-class cricket coaches around the country would chorus, too, as prescription for their batsmen after Devon Hotel Central Districts batsman Carl Cachopa scored an unbeaten 179 runs in the Stags' match against the Auckland Aces at Nelson Park, Napier.
Resuming from a rain-interrupted day one of 38 runs, the 26-year-old carved up 23 boundaries and a lusty six in another trademark game of patience from 297 balls while occupying the crease for 455 minutes to leave the Alan Hunt-coached Stags on the front foot of 430-9 declared.
The former Auckland right-hander brought up his fifth first-class century shortly after lunch.
The Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall premier club allrounder's five first-class career centuries have come in his last nine innings, averaging a shade over 94 since the start of March.
He also scored a ton for the Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay men's team to help them win the annual Chapple Cup, one-day CD tournament on Labour Day weekend.
"We batted well as a team and put together a lot of 50-run and 80-run partnerships so they all add up for a decent score," he said, playing the ritualistic team card.
The No 3 batsman got support from Black Caps wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk (45 runs) while tailenders Doug Bracewell, Tarun Nethula and Andrew Lamb contributed a combined 78 runs to ensure CD gained three batting bonus points.
Ex-CD left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan took 3-107 while Chris Martin was the most frugal on 2-49.
After rookie captain Kieran Noema-Barnett declared, the Stags' spittle shiners got going with some venom.
Australian-born Lamb, who spent the past four seasons with the Wellington Firebirds but failed to make much of an impression - 27 wickets from 12 shield matches - had the Aces in a spin when he claimed a three-wicket maiden on debut and the third over of the innings (dot, dub, dot, dub, dot, dub).
The 34-year-old right-arm fast-medium bowler finished with 3-33 as Auckland found traction with opener Tim McIntosh and skipper Gareth Hopkins to trail by 350 runs with six wickets in hand as today's temperatures were expected to plummet to wintry figures amid rain clearing.
Said Cachopa: "I wouldn't like to think too much about it but tomorrow will be a big morning for us."
He lauded the bowling effort hoping they could back it up today: "It'll be game on."
He felt Auckland had bowled quite well for most of the day and going into yesterday was to get through the new ball.
"We did that and were able to capitalise on it at the end of the day."
He hadn't looked at the forecast but felt Hawke's Bay could get it wrong.
"Sometimes they can get it wrong so we won't be playing the rain card, that's for sure," Cachopa said with a laugh.
Not long after the heavens opened up and cried - just as the forecast had predicted - but it seemed the rain gods were kind to the cricketers, enabling them to play throughout the day to make up for lost overs from day one on Sunday.
Aces coach Paul Strang agreed things didn't work out the way the visitors had planned but, in fairness to him, he did predict CD and Cachopa were very capable of digging their toes in.
"Carl Cachopa batted really well and put up some good partnerships with the tail," said the former Zimbabwe international who felt they had a sniff seizing the initiative.
Strang said it was a poor start with the willow for his men, too.
"It had set us back but we did try to rebuild. We'll take heart from the fact that we're only four down so there's still a long way to go in this game."
He felt Auckland had enough good players to claw their way back into it.
"Gareth and Tim are both very experienced campaigners and we also have Colin Munro and then some tailenders who can also bat."
With the teeth-chattering weather forecast, a laughing Strang said cricket threw all sorts of things at players so they tended to front up.
"Look we're batting so it doesn't make as much of a difference to us as it does to the fielding team."
In some ways the game has a derby look about it with Cachopa, Tarun Nethula, Jeet Raval and Ajaz Patel having roots in Auckland.
"We come across Aucklanders all over the country so it's good to see them flourishing.
"It's nice to see Carl, Tarun and Jeet and to catch up with them as well as follow their progress."
Strang said Auckland had stiff competition for players trying to make the cut into the Aces so they tended to move early to build their careers .
No 7 Jimmy Neesham, who scored a ton for the Otago Volts yesterday against the Northern Districts Knights in their shield match, also hailed from Auckland.
"They are all round and about so players move for the opportunities so we just pride ourselves in our high-performance system to get our players up to a level where they can probably make a living out of it."
The Volts began the day in Hamilton on 71-5 but Neesham, 22, removed his side from their precarious position. It was his maiden first-class ton and, along with a rapid-fire 61 from No 10 Ian Butler, helped the visitors to a 94-run lead.
But ND openers quickly reduced the arrears, bringing up a century stand before Otago's heroes with the bat showed the way with the ball.
At stumps last year's champions were holding a 26-run lead with eight wickets in hand.