"Why couldn't Cyclone Hola wait for another half an hour?" lamented Central Districts Stags team manager Lance Hamilton after they had to settle for a draw against the Auckland Aces yesterday.
The William Young-captained Stags were two wickets shy of bowling out the hosts twice for an outright win but rain robbed them of that on the final day of the round-seven, four-day Plunket Shield match at Eden Park outer oval.
"We played in the drizzle for about 10 or 15 minutes before we came off and just ran out of time as it rained all day," said Hamilton after CD spinner Ajaz Patel claimed two more scalps to add to his three from overnight for a 10-wicket haul in the game and his 14th career first-class five-wicket bag for the Stags.
It was Patel's third consecutive five-wicket bag in two games and the third time he has taken 10 scalps in a shield clash. He also has reclaimed the lead as the country's top domestic red-ball wicket-taker.
The 31-year-old's previous 10-wicket match hauls were a career-best 11-265 against the Aces two summers ago at the same venue. He emulated that feat against Canterbury Kings at Hagley Oval last season.
Lamenting not making the New Zealand XI on Sunday, Patel, to his surprise, received a call-up from the New Zealand selectors yesterday to play in the warm-up matches against England.
"Apparently there's an injury to Mitchell Santner so it's awesome for Ajaz because he's been the premier four-day bowler for the last 2 years now so for him to get that opportunity is great and the boys are chuffed for him," said Hamilton as Patel joins George Worker, Doug Bracewell and Seth Rance in the New Zealand XI equation.
"It's great for the guys to get that opportunity to play internationals so, for someone like Ajaz, hopefully he goes well," he said but mindful CD will need to inject players for the next shield round against the Wellington Firebirds.
Hamilton said the left-arm orthodox spinner from Auckland still had a long career ahead of him and was incrementally getting better every game.
"It's an opportunity, I'm sure, he'll grab with both hands."
While the top-of-the-table clash against the Firebirds at the Basin Reserve from Saturday had a final feel about it, Hamilton said they still had two more games to play after that.
He said the NZ XI four, playing in the pink ball and red ball two-day internationals at Seddon Park, Hamilton, from tomorrow, will be missing from the CD line up this Saturday.
The CD A team play in New Plymouth from today so some players will be called up for the Firebirds match.
CD wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver is still injured but opening batsman Ben Smith has stepped up with some great glove work behind the stumps.
Hamilton said the Stags had played fine cricket to claim 18 wickets in a shade over three days on a benign batting strip without CD batsmen having to bat again with the hosts still 130 odd runs in arrears and two wickets in hand.
"The bowlers did well on a flat wicket so while taking 18 wickets is very satisfying, at the same time it was disappointing not to come away with a win when we were so dominant for four days."
The Heinrich Malan-coached CD are top of the ladder by five points but if the Firebirds beat the Otago Volts today they will regain the lead.