Blessed rain proved the saviour for Unreal Grass Wicket Wanganui, as the second steady downpour in the mid-afternoon saw a teetering home side walking off while praying not to go back and therefore avoiding an innings hammering by Hawke's Bay today.
Made to follow-on after their first innings ended 177 runs short of Hawke's Bay's 365-6 declared from Saturday, following a late start from this morning's showers, some good catches and tight bowling from Hawke's Bay strike pair had Wanganui in dire straits at 47-5 in 19 overs, before the covers went back on at 2.40pm.
As the deluge increased, play was finally called off not long before 5pm.
Only a fortnight after Manawatu's Arana Noema-Barnett had made what seemed likely to be a season-record 177 against Wanganui, also while helping his team set an identical 365 declared, Hawke's Bay's Matt Edmondson topped him with an outstanding 201 not out to dominate the home town bowling attack on Saturday.
Edmondson scored his double ton from just 191 balls, striking 19 boundaries and four sixes, while sharing in big partnerships with in-form opener Bayley Wiggins (63) and then the lower order of Angus Schaw (38) and Todd Watson (46 not out).
Wanganui were a little annoyed that their mid-innings fight back was derailed by Schaw, who was lucky to be granted an extra life when Akash Gill doubled him over in front for either a decent LBW shot, or a bit of bat from an inside edge that spooned up to be caught.
Despite seeming to be dismissed either one way or the other, Schaw was granted a reprieve after a long consultation between the umpires.
Shortly before that, Wanganui had reduced Hawke's Bay to 191-5, as Gill (2-46) and Ross Kinnerley (2-92) broke the Wiggins-Edmondson partnership and swiftly accounted for Kieran Noema-Barnett, skipper Dominic Thompson and Luke Kenworthy.
Granted a second life, Schaw supported Edmondson, with the partnership surviving what was one of four dropped Wanganui catches when Sam Sheriff just couldn't quite haul in a difficult high chance going to his right, while Edmondson then used his feet to attack the spin of Chris Sharrock and pace of player-coach Vikum Sanjaya, returning to the crease.
Having reset at 221-5 by the drinks break, Hawke's Bay went on the assault in the next session, with Schaw eventually run out by Kinnerley, but Watson smacked four boundaries and three sixes in just 21 balls to rapidly surpass the 350 and leave the visitor's content with their batting bonus point score.
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In reply, remembering their 340 against Manawatu, Wanganui made a positive start to the run chase through Greg Smith (20) scoring at a run a ball and veteran Dominic Rayner (32) digging in, before Ben Stoyanoff (2-39) continued his strong form to break the 38-run partnership.
The out-of-form Sheriff got trapped in front by William Clark (2-12), who then accounted for Rayner as Thompson took a second catch.
Akhil Kumar (47) continued to show you can play positively under pressure, joined for a while by Gill (23), who also scored at nearly a run a ball before losing his stumps to the hard-to-read spin of West Australian Kyle Gardiner (3-74).
Mark Fraser (21) joined Kumar in looking to see out the day, but was likewise bowled by the confident Schaw (3-29), with skipper Dominic Lock not far behind him courtesy of Stoyanoff.
Kumar and Matt Simes (21 not out) saw off the last of the 40 overs in the day, but less than five overs into the resumption from 11.30am, Gardiner had Kumar to deny him a half century.
Gardiner and Schaw then swept up the lower order for 30 more runs – which somewhat belied the prematch thought that spinners would not be effective at a damp Victoria Park.
Sent back in with the prospect of batting most of the afternoon if the dark clouds on the horizon went in another direction, Wanganui were promptly in the cart at 20-4.
The promoted Simes, known for his stickability, was gone in the opening over, while Smith (15) started well until Rayner went from a Watson catch off Stoyanoff (3-32) and the bowler himself snatched a caught and bowled to get Smith – all three dismissals part of a great fielding display from the visitors.
Once again, Sheriff got caught on the pads, this time by Gardiner (2-8) as Hawke's Bay set their best spinner and pace man (Stoyanoff) at the home side to unsettle their rhythm.
Kumar (11) didn't stop trying to play some shots, and neither did Gill (16 not out) to bring the target down to 140-odd to make Hawke's Bay bat again.
But when Kumar drove Gardiner delivery straight to Thompson at 37-5, an uncomfortable Lock went in and Wanganui were looking to the heavens.
Fortunately, their prayers were answered as Wanganui saw off just eight more deliveries before the umpires called for the covers, and after waiting around for nearly two hours with no clearing break in the rainfall, the game was called.
Lock agreed they were pleased to see the back of Furlong Cup's strongest team, although that should not excuse the fact they did not bat in the right mindset after Hawke's Bay got away on them again from 191-5.
"It was mostly shot selection today, just playing a little too aggressive.
"Almost playing like it's one day cricket."
The skipper was asked if frustration at the hammering they took at the end of the first innings created a pressure to try and respond in kind.
"To a degree, but I think we're quite aggressive players anyway, most of us, and we should know better.
"The bowling is better than what we play at Coastal Challenge.
"At least we don't have to play them first game at Chapple Cup."
The annual 50-over tournament is being held this coming weekend in Napier, with Wanganui having to go without Rayner and Kinnerley, with Fraser uncertain at this stage.
Hawkes Bay 1st Innings
Harry Young ct A Kumar b V Sanjaya 2
Bayley Wiggins ct M Fraser b R Kinnerley 63
Matt Edmondson not out 201
Kieran Noema-Barnett ct M Simes b A Gill 0
Dominic Thompson lbw A Gill 9
Luke Kenworthy lbw R Kinnerley 0
Angus Schaw run out (R Kinnerley) 38
Todd Watson not out 46
Total: 365-6 declared (72 overs).
Bowling: Ross Kinnerley 20 overs 1 maiden 92 runs 2 wickets; Vikum Sanjaya 9-0-63-1; Connor O'Leary 13-0-69-0; Akhil Kumar 3-0-14-0; Akash Gill 14-2-46-2; Chris Sharrock 13-0-80-0.
Wanganui 1st Innings
Greg Smith ct D Thompson b B Stoyanoff 20
Dominic Rayner ct D Thompson b W Clark 32
Sam Sheriff lbw W Clark 2
Akhil Kumar ct H Young b K Gardiner 47
Akash Gill bt K Gardiner 23
Mark Fraser b A Schaw 21
Dominic Lock lbw B Stoyanoff 1
Matthew Simes not out 21
Ross Kinnerley ct A Schaw b K Gardiner 5
Vikum Sanjaya ct B Stoyanoff b A Schaw 3
Chris Sharrock ct B Stoyanoff b A Schaw 4
Total: 188 all out (57.4 overs).
Bowling: Ben Stoyanoff 11-3-39-2; Angus McKnight 6-1-27-0; William Clark 6-2-12-2; Kyle Gardiner 18-1-74-3; Angus Schaw 17-5-29-3.
Wanganui 2nd Innings (follow on)
Matthew Simes ct M Edmondson b B Stoyanoff 0
Dominic Rayner ct T Watson b B Stoyanoff 3
Greg Smith c&b B Stoyanoff 15
Sam Sheriff lbw K Gardiner 0
Akhil Kumar ct D Thompson b K Gardiner 11
Akash Gill not out 16
Dominic Lock not out 0
Total: 47-5 (19 overs). Off for rain.
Bowling: Ben Stoyanoff 10-2-32-3; Angus Schaw 5-3-5-0; Kyle Gardiner 4-2-8-2.
Result: Match drawn, Hawke's Bay win 1st innings points.