Reserve grade title race still wide open

By Greg Taipari,

With rain affecting two of the four rounds in the Rotorua senior reserve grade cricket, it's still anyone's competition.

Central have the inside running with two wins from two matches. Only Geyser City have yet to record a win with three rounds to go.

Last weekend's round was a washout but round five sees some interesting match-ups.

With Smallbone and Ray Boord Parks out of action because of the premier Twenty20 cricket competition, the reserves have been moved to Neil Hunt Park and Rotorua Boys' High School.

Central take on Bay of Plenty Indians at Western Heights at Neil Hunt Park today. It has been a long time since the Indians have tasted victory (round one win over Rotorua Boys' High School) so the royal blues will be keen to give Central their first loss of the season.

Possibly their best chance of doing this would be to win the toss and bat first. Central haven't had to chase an innings so far this season. So they haven't been tested in this area. They have a strong top and middle order but as their third round match against Western Heights showed, they are vulnerable if the tail is exposed.

Central lost their last three wickets without adding a run.

However, Central, led by captain Rees Uerata, are a side full of confidence and will be looking to keep their momentum going.

Rotorua Boys' High School host their Western Heights counterparts today and both teams have shown plenty of potential. Boys' High had a solid win over Taupo Wanderers in round three, while Heights have to go back to round one to remember that winning feeling with a nail-biter against Geyser.

John Paul College player/coach Mark Chapman will be taking his side to Taupo to take on Taupo College.

Both teams had wins in round three with Chapman scoring a stunning 145 not out and Amit Kumar (23) and Liam Kelly (30) contributing with the bat. Their bowlers have been equally impressive with Mark Rigter 2/19, Mukund Ranchod 3/31 and Kelly 4/41 showing their worth.

But Taupo are no pushovers. Led by captain Michael Hargreaves, the side have shown in their two matches they have some potent cricketers.

Hargreaves scored 43 in their defeat of the Indian side. He was joined by Aiden Keith 49 not out, Martin Stretch 21 and Reece MacDonald 20.

Keith showed he is dangerous with bat and ball when he picked up three wickets for 33 runs. His teammates Gavin Poole, Josh McNeish-Hastings and Nathan Hill all grabbed two wickets each to bowl Bay of Plenty Indians out for 159 chasing JPC's total of 166.

In the final match of the round, last year's champions Taupo Wanderers host Geyser. Both sides have struggled this season with their player numbers down through player defections.

However, with the weather expected to be fine in Taupo, both sides will be looking to come away with a win.

All games get underway at noon.

Rotorua reserve grade cricket draw: Indians v Central, Neil Hunt Park; Rotorua Boys' High School v Western Heights High School, Rotorua Boys' High School; Taupo College John Paul College, Taupo Nui-a-tia College; Taupo Wanderers v Geyser, Kaimanawa Reserve.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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