North Otago will go into its final Hawke Cup clash of the season against Southland full of confidence after securing a comprehensive outright win over Mid Canterbury in Oamaru last weekend.
The home side claimed a convincing 168-run win thanks largely to a second consecutive Hawke Cup century from Francois Mostert, and Craig Smith’s match haul of nine wickets.
The win was North Otago’s biggest, by runs, over any team, statistician Scott Cameron said. The previous highest was the famous Hawke Cup victory in Palmerston North almost seven years ago.
North Otago player-selector Duncan Drew said the win was a simple case of the home side handling the condition better than the visitors, as well as masterful performances from Mostert and Smith.
“The guys played well. The deck was pretty hard to bat on – you saw that with the low scores – but obviously Francois played out of his skin as usual and the bowlers bowled better lines and channels than Mid Canterbury did.”
Drew also praised the efforts of North Otago’s lower-order batsmen, who added vital runs in the second innings.
His attention is now focused on Southland, which has secured top spot in the region regardless of the result this weekend.
“Southland will be looking to get out there and bat as long as they can, but from our point of view we want to beat them. We’ve got a point to prove too.”
Asked to bat by Mid Canterbury on a bowling-friendly track at Centennial Park at the weekend, North Otago was in early strife at 26 for four.
Mostert (23) and Nathan Smith (31) rallied with a 50-run stand to lift the home side to 76 for five, before Regan George batted freely for 41 to help North Otago reach 137.
In reply, Mid Canterbury started strongly with a first-wicket partnership of 49 between James Southby and Robbie Poulson, before the former was dismissed by Brad Fleming for 24.
The visitors lost their last nine wickets for 52 runs to fold for 101, Craig Smith claiming five for 32 and Mostert four for eight.
North Otago, missing key top-order batsman Jeremy Smith through injury, again lost early wickets, slumping to 28 for five in its second dig, before Mostert hit a sparkling 107.
Mostert’s second consecutive Hawke Cup century, to go with the 133 not out he plundered against South Canterbury last month, was only the third instance of a North Otago player scoring two hundreds in a row for the province.
The gifted South African has also drawn level with Ben Cant, Sean Eathorne and Carl Zimmerman for the most centuries (three) in total for the province.
North Otago was eventually bowled out for 210, George chipping in with a useful 29 and No 11 Fleming adding 19.
Set 247 to win, Mid Canterbury never got out of first gear and was dismissed for a paltry 78.
Craig Smith was again the chief destroyer with four for 23 to give him match figures of nine for 58, while Mostert claimed two for 11 and Nathan Smith two for 10 to complete the rout.