Tech College Old Boys have moved up into the second home semifinal spot of the Coastal Challenge Cup with one round to play after a one wicket, last-ball thriller against Wanganui Vet Services Marist at Victoria Park today.
In a near replay of their other last over derby victory against Property Brokers United on December 14, Tech were slowly but steadily climbing their way to the target, with an ever increasing run rate, and just when they were ready to launch, lost key wickets against the young Marist pace bowlers.
And once again, it was their teenaged wicket keeper Siddh Lad (38 not out off 26) who delivered in the clutch by hitting two of the last three balls of the game from Angus Dinwiddie (5-59) to the boundary in an electrifying final over where Marist also claimed two excellent catches.
The tightest of wins allowed Tech to leapfrog both Paraparaumu CC, who have not played Coastal Challenge in January due to the Horowhenua-Kapiti sides having extra rounds before the New Year, and United themselves, who tripped up in a costly 75 run loss to fifth-place Red Star at Masterton's Queen Elizabeth Park.
In the other game down in Masterton, Whanganui Collegiate 1st XI lost to Landsdowne CC at Greytown Memorial Park.
The pendulum was swinging right from the outset at Victoria Park as Marist, who had a strong side after the previous week's Twenty20 default, lost their top order to be 12-3 after four overs.
Representative bowlers Vikum Sanjaya (4-59) and game MVP Akash Gill (4-26) removed Dominic Rayner, Andy Manoussos and the dangerous Zak O'Keefe to catches.
However, Mark Fraser (46) and skipper Hamish Harding (101) lead a strong recovery to get their team to the middle overs, before Fraser lost his stumps to the returning Jess Watkin, with Harding then carrying on with Hadleigh O'Leary (43).
Harding faced 127 balls, striking 12 boundaries and a six, and was bringing momentum back to his team at 196-4 entering the slog overs, before Fraser Kinnerley bowled O'Leary right at the end of his 10-over spell.
Sanjaya and Gill then returned to dismiss Craig Thorpe and James Wilson – Thorpe gone off a great Bevan Hunter catch – before Gill got the ball through to Harding's stumps at 224-8 in the 46th over and leaving Marist unlikely to bat through.
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Allrounder Nick Harding was still there and tried to protect the strike so he could launch some precious extra runs, but Sanjaya stranded him by bowling Angus Dinwiddie and the last man with eight balls left in the innings.
Sanjaya also wanted to attack at opening batsman again, but this time after hitting Dinwiddie for six, he gave up a nick behind the next delivery.
Looking for some form, Kashish Nauhria (15) was joined by Sam Sherriff (22) to see off Marist's opening quicks, but it was slow progress at 39-2 after 15 overs, with Tech's run rate hovering around 7-8 an over throughout the innings.
Nauhria drove James Wilson (2-24) over the top for a boundary but was dismissed soon after, which brought on Gill, fresh from his unbeaten 100 in the Furlong Cup, who provided the crucial anchor innings of 72 from 91 balls.
When Sherriff fell to what would be the first of a couple of excellent Thorpe catches, captain Dominic Lock (40 from 52) came in and took over as dominant scorer, with Tech's boundaries being mostly hard pull shots as Marist looked to take the pace off the ball while also bowling a little short.
O'Keefe and Harding made the pair work for every run, as it appeared another photo finish was on the way with 118 needed from 96 balls.
Then, just like against United, Lock had the worst luck when Dinwiddie returned for a three-over spell and with his first ball, a deflection off body spun on the ground and hit the stumps.
Hunter (29 off 24) entered and immediately looked to get his team on the front foot with some hard drives, with Gill also stepping up his run rate, the pair taking one big over off O'Leary (2-60) which included Gill reaching his 50.
With 74 runs needed off the last ten overs but six wickets in hand, Tech had a slight advantage, but Marist came back again as O'Leary took Hunter's stumps right after being hit for four.
Lad came in and the pace between the wickets increased markedly, as Tech would come to bless the teenager whipping through to slide for a second run several times, as he and Gill put on a brisk 37 in four overs.
Dinwiddie and Wilson came back, and off the last ball of the 47th over, Gill hit too straight and Thorpe had another sliding catch.
With 22 needed off 18, Watkin hit a high ball to the deep that bounced right over Nick Harding's head for a priceless boundary, before Tech started to self-destruct.
While Lad was keeping his head, he lost Watkin when Dinwiddie took her stumps, and then with seven needed off the final over, United game batting hero Fraser Kinnerley and Din Bandara both tried to hit Dinwiddie through the air and holed out to good catches by Thorpe and O'Leary.
Lad had run through to the strike with both dismissals, with six now needed from three.
In a pulsating conclusion, Lad flicked Dinwiddie inside of third man to the boundary, swung and missed a lifting delivery, and then with two still needed off the last ball, picked Dinwiddie up again through the same spot to win the match.
The clutch victory moved Tech ahead of United, who went from looking at a home semifinal to now playing for their playoff spot in the last round of February 8, as Red Star threw themselves a lifeline with the big win.
Red Star built a solid innings with partnerships all the way through before being dismissed off the last ball for 257.
While United skipper Simon Badger (1-25, two maidens), got an early breakthrough, Robbie Anderson (29) and Stefan Hook (28) got starts, as did Wairarapa representative players Brock Price (30 off 16) and Ethan Childs (27).
While the others were conservative, Price looked to get on the front foot, hitting four boundaries and two sixers, before being bowled by Ryan Slight (3-59).
Slight, Brendon Walker and Ritesh Verma getting wickets meant Red Star needed a strong finish at 187-5 in the 41st over, but their wicketkeeper Nathan Elliott (81 not out off 70) played strongly – hitting 10 boundaries and a six.
Cole Freeman (18 from 14) stayed with Elliott for a while, before Chris Sharrock (2-35) and John Beale (2-29) worked through the lower order, who gave up edges to wicket keeper Matthew Simes, with Slight getting his 3-for with the last ball.
Chasing 258 was not going to be an easy task, and openers Alex Kayser (15) and veteran Gerrard Hobbs (71 from 81) had United away to a solid start, before Quinn Childs (2-27) broke the partnership.
Simes (17) came in and was his watchful self, but from 103-1, United slumped to 131-6 as Red Star's first and second change bowlers Jacob Osborne (3-20) and skipper Peter Sigvertsen (3-42) ran through them.
Key man Greg Smith went for a duck two balls after Simes dismissal, then Hobbs finally fell while Sharrock was trapped in front by Quinn Childs.
Robbie Power's dismissal meant that Walker (31 from 23) and Badger were now the key men with just bowlers left behind them, but both fell to Ethan Childs (2-34) and at 175-8 in the 39th over, there were enough balls remaining but not the wickets.
Verma and Slight were cleaned up by Sigvertsen in consecutive overs to move Red Star up to four points behind United going into the last round.
At Greytown Memorial Park, it was virtually a one-man show as while Landsdowne did not have a full lineup, they reached 236 through their representative batsman Gus Borren, who stroked an outstanding 149 from 101 balls, the second-highest innings in the competition this summer.
The next highest contributors were Borren's fellow opener John Mckenzie (17) and middle order batsman Nathan Chaney (13), with no one else reaching double figures as Borren nearly carried his bat before being dismissed LBW in the 34th over after only three balls from Daniel Burgess.
Borren struck 22 boundaries and four sixers, having assaulted Collegiate's opening bowlers right from the outset.
Looking to strand him, six of Collegiate's seven bowlers took wickets, with Oscar McVerry (3-24, three maidens) the pick of them as while he didn't dismiss Borren, he kept him honest, while picking up some other top order players cheaply.
In reply, Collegiate had a solid dig but were going to be short at 189-9 in the 40th over.
McVerry (36) continued his strong match at opener, while support came from James Craig (27), Shaun O'Leary (24) and Burgess (23).
However, while batsmen got set, they eventually ran afoul of Regan Fricker (5-39) who was devastating in his eights overs in two spells.
Robbie Speers (4-49) had also done the damage, as from having a chance at 153-4, Collegiate's middle and lower order caved, with only Harvey Meyer (21 not out) able to survive.
The two bowlers kept the ball straight, getting the stumps or LBW decisions.
Marist 238 (H Harding 101, M Fraser 46, H O'Leary 43; A Gill 4-26, V Sanjaya 4-59) lost to 241-9 (A Gill 72, D Lock 40, S Lad 38no, B Hunter 29, S Sherriff 22; A Dinwiddie 5-59, J Wilson 2-24, H O'Leary 2-60) by one wicket.
Red Star 257 (N Elliot 81no, B Price 30, R Anderson 29, S Hook 28, E Childs 27; R Slight 3-59, J Beale 2-29, C Sharrock 2-35) bt United 182 (G Hobbs 71, B Walker 31; P Sigvertsen 3-42, J Osborne 3-20, Q Childs 2-27, E Childs 2-34) by 75 runs.
Landsdowne 236 (G Borren 149; O McVerry 3-24) bt Whanganui Collegiate 189-9 (O McVerry 36, J Craig 27, S O'Leary 24, D Burgess 23, H Meyer 21no; R Fricker 5-39, R Speers 4-49).