Cricket: Patel's faith yields wickets

By Anendra Singh

He is developing the art of spin but there's no twists and turns when it comes down to the common denominator in life for Ajaz Patel.

In the mould of African-American pop stars, the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags doesn't blink when he attributes his on-field successes to a celestial source.

"Everything happened from that ball but I'm quite religious in my upbringing so everything goes upstairs. Good fortune, I suppose, comes from God," says the devout Islamic follower after claiming 6-57 in just his third first-class career match after CD beat the Canterbury Wizards by 81 runs yesterday.

The 24-year-old left-arm offspinner didn't have much joy in the first innings (0-42) at McLean Park, Napier, in the four-day Plunket Shield match but in the second innings he showed his potential from 26 overs, including seven maidens.

"It was quite vital for us to get the outright win but I think overall it was getting the win but also kind of fulfilling goals I set out throughout the season."

With the wicket showing wear and tear, the Taradale player said there were more footholds to grab hold of in the second innings.

The rot set in for the Wizards with the dismissal of No 4 batsman Dean Brownlie for 26 runs after a 70-ball defiance at the crease.

"I was quite of fortunate, really, because it wasn't the greatest ball I bowled all day but, I mean, you sometimes take any wicket you can get."

Former Black Cap batsman Brownlie got an inside edge on to his pad. The ball deflected from there on to wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk's pad before ballooning to Ross Taylor at first slip for a catch.

Having arrived from Mumbai, India, with parents Shanaz and Yunus, Patel has lived with his family in Auckland for the past 17 years.

"This is my first year down in Central so I've been quite fortunate to have the opportunities I've had down here.

"They [CD coaching staff] have put a lot in me so it's good to repay that faith."

While his teammates enjoyed a beer Patel sipped fizzy drinks but the six-wicket ball will take pride of place at his home.

His father, family and friends had congratulated him via text messages and tweets.

"My mum's in Mumbai but once she sees the results she'll be very pleased."

While the signs might have been ominous on Saturday with CD batsmen losing wickets regularly and Canterbury openers Peter Fulton and George Worker settling in well, Patel said the CD camp remained buoyant after he rattled the furniture of former Stag left-hander Worker for 29 runs shortly before the umpires lifted the bails for the third day's play.

"To be honest the atmosphere within the group was quite relaxed. The boys kind of backed themselves on a fourth-day wicket," he said lauding legspinner Tarun Nethula on the other end who he felt didn't get the wickets he deserved but played a pivotal part in stifling the Fulton-captained Wizards.

"The bowling spell from Kyle Jarvis was massive because that made my job easier to come in relaxed and bowl without any pressure because we still had a lot of runs in hand."

Bowling coach Lance Hamilton had given the bowlers a licence to "give it all" which Patel said boosted their mind set.

Captain Kieran Noema-Barnett said the way CD bowled was pleasing.

"Especially after last night when we let them off a little for probably an hour when they got 80 odd from 20 overs but the bowling effort today was fantastic and it was fitting that we got the right result at the end."

Noema-Barnett top scored with 90 runs from 193 balls, including 11 boundaries and a six, in the second innings of 320 all out in 93 overs. Carl Cachopa (41 runs), Taylor (52), Mathew Sinclair (38) got starts but didn't go on to stamp their authority. No 8, Nethula contributed 41 from 90 balls.

Asked if he was disappointed not to go on to make his second first-class ton, Noema-Barnett replied: "Yes, there's a little bit of disappointment there but at the end of the day I had a big score, if you like, and made a decent contribution to the way the match went so that's the big thing."

He agreed it was timely to have an outright result here after the Otago Volts thumped the Wellington Blaze in Dunedin by an innings and 240 runs to hold the top rung of the shield ladder for a day before CD snatched it back yesterday.

CD play the Auckland Aces with "in-form Taylor and a good influence on the boys".

Canterbury bowler Matt McEwan said they were looking good at stumps on Saturday at 88-1 but yesterday morning they failed to find that groove.

"We lost wickets at crucial times. We got partnerships of 30s and 40s but that doesn't cut the mustard," the opening bowler said, lamenting it was gut-wrenching to lose by 88 runs.

"In first-class cricket we shouldn't be doing that on probably one of the better batting wickets in New Zealand."

McEwan said the Wizards didn't have Patel's measure.

"The batting application to turn the strike over to push the field back to get the easy twos and ones, we should have got.

"The boys even said he bowled in the right areas but we didn't have the application to score the runs off him," McEwan said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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