North Otago clinches challenge

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North Otago’s first-innings win over Mid Canterbury has booked the side a Hawke Cup challenge in March.

The weekend’s game was crucial for the side, which needed an outright win to guarantee itself a challenge. While that was not achieved, enough was done to gain first-innings points and break some records along the way.

And when South Canterbury – realistically the only team which could pass North Otago – was unable to gain an outright win over Otago Country in the weekend, the North Otago squad was left jumping for joy, having done enough against Mid Canterbury to earn the challenge.

Manager Hamish McMurdo said it was a pleasing result for the side.

“We played really well and we have achieved the goal we set as a squad, so we’re really happy with that.”

McMurdo said the side would now need to refocus ahead of the challenge.

“We will need to sit down and work out new challenges and assess where things are at, but the challenge came about because we were hungrier than other teams and that’s what it came down to.”

One of the more pleasing aspects of the side’s win, McMurdo said, was that the batsmen stood up.

“We had a couple of batters in Ben and Francois who really stood up, and Jezza [Jeremiah Shields] as well, who supported Ben really well after we lost a couple of early wickets.”

Captain Jordan Horrell won the toss and inserted Mid Canterbury in to bat and the visiting side was nicely placed at 92-3. However, the loss of three wickets for no runs stalled them slightly.

At 92-6 it lseemed Mid Canterbury could be bowling soon. However, a record partnership of 123 for the seventh wicket between Kieran Hunt and Tom Meyrick helped get Mid Canterbury through to a competitive first-innings score of 280.

Hunt made 68, Meyrick 50, Bevan Ravenscroft 41 and Matt Winter 31, while Mostert was the star bowler, claiming 5-68 while Ricky Whyte chipped in with 2-20.

North Otago’s reply started positively, with Lochlan Kingan and Glynn Cameron getting the score through to 26 before Kingan fell lbw for 12.

Cameron and Jeremy Smith then fell shortly after, leaving the home side teetering at 35-3, before Shields and Cant set about chasing down the Mid Canterbury score.

They put on 98 runs before Shields was given out lbw for 27, Mostert joined Cant and they got the side through to stumps safely.

The next morning they went out firing, Cant moving through to 100 and Mostert making 50.

Cant was out caught for 113, while South African pro Mostert kept the attack going and notched up his hundred soon after.

Nathan Smith added a valuable 41 and, along with Mostert, who was last man out for 159, helped get the side through to 416, its highest ever first innings score and with it first innings points.

The previous highest score was 412, made in 1928 against Southland.

Mostert was also the first player to score 100 and take five wickets in a match since Carl Zimmerman’s effort against Southland in 1928, while he also notched the highest score by a No 6 batsman for North Otago.

In Mid Canterbury’s second innings, it reached 144-3 before the game was called off, with Horrell picking up two wickets and Regan George claiming a run out most domestic cricketers would envy with a fantastic piece of fielding.

North Otago will be the last of the four zones to get a challenge and could find itself in Northland, Manawatu or Rangiora depending on upcoming results.

By Brayden Lindsay

PHOTO: SUPPLIED –¬†Francois Mostert celebrates after scoring 150 against Mid Canterbury. Mostert broke two longstanding North Otago records in the match.