Wairarapa might be the rank underdogs in the last of their Hawke Cup qualifying round cricket matches against zone two front-runners Manawatu at Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North, this weekend but they aren't about to accept defeat as a matter of course.
Their outright victory over Horowhenua-Kapiti a couple of weeks ago may have been their first in the Hawke Cup series but, according to selector-coach Sam Curtis, it has given the side a much needed boost of confidence, and they are ready to tackle Manawatu head on.
"Obviously nobody will be expecting us to win but if we play smart we can make it really hard for them," Curtis said, adding that with Manawatu almost certainly needing maximum points to guarantee themselves a Hawke Cup challenge the pressure was more on them than Wairarapa.
"If any team has to take a risk or two it is probably going to be them and that suits us perfectly, the more competitive we are the more it is going to play on their minds." Four changes have been made to the Wairarapa line-up which beat Horowhenua-Kapiti, three of them forced.
Unavailable for this game were all-rounder Dean van Deventer, wicketkeeper Matt McKenzie and opening batsman Justin Herbert while Harry Greenwood was overlooked. Coming into the side are Sean Jarvis, Josh Mann, Ben Foster and Quintin McKenna.
For McKenna it will be his debut for Wairarapa senior level and it will be interesting to see how the young Greytown medium pacer copes against what will be a powerful Manawatu batting line-up.
Jarvis will take Herbert's place at the top of the batting line-up. He is probably better known as a bowler but a neck problem is restricting his effectiveness in that department.
Selector Curtis admits having Jarvis open the innings against a Manawatu attack spearheaded by former Black Cap Michael Mason is a huge ask but he is confident he will give it his best shot.
"Sean is keen to have another crack and if enthusiasm counts for anything he will do okay," Curtis said.
The full Wairarapa squad is: Sean Jarvis, Tim Lucas, Joe Hull, Henry Cameron (captain), Harry Clinton-Baker, Sam Curtis, Alex Treseder, Ben Foster, Josh Mann, Jarred Watt, Quintin McKenna, Stefan Hook-Sporry.
Meanwhile, Red Star, Lansdowne and Greytown are all poised to complete outright wins when matches in the Bidwell Cup two-day competition continue tomorrow.
Of the three Red Star look to have the easiest row to hoe. Their game with Wairarapa College should be all over within the first 30 minutes or so as they have just 28 runs to score in their second innings to pick up the maximum points. Barring bad weather that will be a formality, surely!
Lansdowne raced to 323 in their first innings against Marist Old Boys and with Marist Old Boys making just 47 in their first innings.
Greytown, thanks to a second successive Blake Lyford century, took a 93-run first innings lead over Kuranui Old Boys and with KOB being 40-2 in their second innings the odds would have to favour an early finish tomorrow with Greytown the victors.