Wanganui batting restores pride

By Jared Smith

A gritty fight for survival from some old hands and positive strokeplay from the youngsters saw Wanganui bat out an entire Sunday to salvage plenty of pride from their Hawke Cup encounter.

On a flat Victoria Park batting wicket against raging favourites Manawatu, the home side looked well and truly in the cart by stumps on Saturday evening - slumping to 27-3 in the hour after the final drinks following the visitor's declaration at 398-9.

However, starting with Max Carroll digging his toes in for three straight hours at the crease yesterday morning, Wanganui played out nearly eight hours to finish dismissed for 338.

While still a first innings defeat, this was mostly the Manawatu side that blitzed Taranaki in less than day for an innings massacre in November.

Scoring well over 300 eclipses the 281 reached against Wairarapa last month and Wanganui manager Andrew Lock was struggling to recall when this was last achieved. "I couldn't even think how many years back."

With both poise and character, teenager Kane Watkin followed up his 57 against Young Taranaki with a positive 85 from 98 balls, sharing key partnerships with Dominic Rayner (62) and Dominic Lock (32no) as the tail wagged.

Rather than being truly competitive against the heavyweights, it appeared Wanganui might have been heading for an unpleasant entry in the record books as Manawatu's openers reached the thirties and took them through to 81-2 by the 29th over.

This had extended to 340-6 late on Saturday as Mitch Renwick stroked his way to 91, while Dave Meiring had already picked off a 50 and Dane Cleaver nailing 61 made for a long, hot afternoon in the field for the home side.

Teenager Nick Blundell and veteran Rayner led a small comeback with the new ball, snaffling three wickets as they sent down nearly 50 overs between them in a workhorse effort.

Blundell finished the day with four scalps for 88 runs.

But after former Black Cap Mike Mason smacked a six into the long trees for the ball to be lost, Manawatu were content to declare just short of 400.

Mason and Navin Patel then ran roughshod over the top order as Henry Collier and Morgan Innes fell with very little trouble to the scorekeepers.

Facing a daunting 299 just to make Manawatu pad up, Carroll made it clear his wicket would have to be pried from him with a crowbar battling 182 minutes for 29.

Despite his war of attrition, Wanganui still seemed likely for disaster as leading hope Ben Smith fell for 46 and when Patel had Mark Fraser LBW after 61 overs, the innings lay bare at 168-7.

In stepped Watkins, who immediately took over as senior partner with the watchful Rayner, flicking boundaries off his pads with the occasional smash through the onside. He even hit the cagey Mason through the air as 200 loomed, then 220, and inconceivably the follow-on.

Watkin carried on with Dom Lock, by which time Manawatu had seen their chance at maximum points disappear.

Patel finished with a prosperous 5-74 from his 21 overs, while Mason finished 2-76 from his 28.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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