Stags face nightmare of finishing dead last

By Anendra Singh

CD v Wizards

HRV Cup T20

Mathew Sinclair had pencilled in an interview with Radio Sport's Tony Veitch today in trying to make sense of the Black Caps' 45-all-out debacle following their first-day theatrics in the cricket test in South Africa.

But there was no hiding behind the skirt of the international team's ineptness either, as Sinclair fronted up to Hawke's Bay Today with the pressing issue of trying to decipher how the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags have registered only one victory from eight games with four to go in their HRV Cup Twenty/20 competition.

It was reload and fire at Saxton Oval, Nelson, in the space of three days but the Alan Hunt-coached Stags found themselves again pulling shotgun pellets from their hide after another demoralising defeat to the Canterbury Wizards, this time a five-run loss hot on the heels of a four-wicket beating on Tuesday.

Any other time, few would have made much of yesterday's loss but when you are staring at the barrel of another premature T20 cup exit, one win and the impending nightmare of finishing dead last can resonate like a Stag crumbling in a heap to the sound of gunfire while in full flight.

"It's fair to say we're out of the competition," veteran Sinclair lamented last night as the Gary Stead-coached Wizards pulled another rabbit out of the hat after winning the toss and posting a handsome 185-5 in 20 overs.

"The next four games will be a bit of a pride thing for us," he said after captain Kieran Noema-Barnett and his troops fought gallantly with a reply of 180-3 in 20 overs, Sinclair (38 runs), Ben Smith (39), William Young (40), Noema-Barnett (38) and Carl Cachopa (21no) all well above the magical 100 per cent strike rate.

"I can't ever remember a time when CD won only one game in T20 so it's really poor from us."

For the record, Bevan Small had bounced the "Mongoose" (No 6 Gareth Andrew), the CD slayer on Tuesday, cheaply for just one run from two balls to Smith in Canterbury's innings.

But just as Stead was hoping, other players, namely No 5 Andrew Ellis, (55 not out/34 balls) and former CD Stag Brendon Diamanti (69 not out at No 7/33 balls), had delivered with aplomb.

Sinclair felt CD had their chances to take the game away from the Wizards but failed to grab them, with Ellis and Diamanti scoring 85 runs from the last five overs, whereas CD only managed 55.

With the fielding restrictions in the first six overs, he said he and Smith had provided a platform to keep in touch with the run rate.

With the score on 68 from 6.4 overs, Black Caps spinner Ronnie Hira executed a direct hit to the stumps to catch Smith short of his ground, sending the opener packing and shifting the momentum in the match.

"We needed to keep the impetus going for a complete batting performance. Ben and I spoke about it because when you're chasing 10 to 11 runs at the end we needed someone like me to keep the impetus up," Sinclair said.

Small, Black Cap Adam Milne and spinner Marty Kain were the pick of the bowlers while Zimbabwe international Kyle Jarvis and legspinner Tarun Nethula took some stick.

Conversely, the Tom Latham-skippered Wizards took only three scalps but showed immense discipline in disregard for the festive season by gifting only three wides and a bye to CD's seven leg byes, four byes and a wide.

Sinclair said CD needed to show some sense of collectiveness in their drive, more so than just an individual one, if they are to lift themselves for a few more face-saving points in the four remaining matches. He said CD needed a player in the mould of ex-Black Cap Diamanti, who crossed the floor to the Wizards.

"We tried to get Brendon and he was going to come to our team but he was also coaching a cricket team in Perth," he said.

"We did try to get him but he was available only for the Twenty/20 competition although the CD administration are probably in a better situation to shed more light on it."

CD are minus some key players due to injuries, including English import Peter Trego who has gone back home, and senior players taking paternity leave to help out their wives.

The Stags jetted off to Dunedin today to play the Otago Volts on Sunday from 2pm in a televised match from the University Oval.

From there it'll be two matches at CD's No 1 venue, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, to host the Auckland Aces at 4pm on Wednesday, January 9, and then the Volts at the same time on Sunday, January 13.

The last game will be away at Eden Park against the Aces on Tuesday, January 15.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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