BY PETER JONES
A gutsy declaration paid dividends for the Nelson cricket side who pulled off an unlikely victory over arch-rival Marlborough in a topsy-turvy Hawke Cup cricket clash at Horton Park on Sunday.
The win means Nelson has booked a place in the final to decide the Hawke Cup challenger, where it will again meet Marlborough who managed to accumulate enough points to become top qualifiers for the zone three final.
Coach Ryan Edwards said they travelled over the Whangamoa’s with a clear goal in mind.
“We needed an outright result and we achieved it which was nice.”
Ryan says, while there were some outstanding individual performances from the likes of the Zhorab’s, seamer Jarrod McKay and skipper Greg Hay, it was a brilliant team effort.
He says a bad hour with the bat on day two put them in trouble before a stunning spell by McKay brought them right back in the contest.
“He bowled with great aggression, executed his plans and picked up three wickets in a six over spell.
Ryan says the bold declaration was made to give them the best chance at a result.
“We felt that was the best opportunity to allow ourselves enough time.
“Him and David, the way they went about that chase was very positive, we needed 180 off 39 overs and, on a deteriorating pitch, they played beautifully and positively.”
The win sees Nelson advance to the play offs and the side will meet Marlborough again in the Southern Zone qualifier in a three-day game.
“The extra day brings another element, but the boys will take some momentum knowing that we did what we have to do but we know we will face a different Marlborough side on the Feb 1, but hopefully we will come out on the right side of the ledger.”
At the end of the first day the game was in the balance, Marlborough scoring a modest 229 all out in their first innings.
At stumps on Saturda,y Nelson were well placed to push on at 88-2.
However, Marlborough took control when paceman Nick Weaver picked up three quick wickets to put the skids under the visitor’s reply.
When top scorer Thomas Zohrab (69) was run out by Luke Frankland at 128-6, the writing was on the wall.
Devon Surrieir, with 24, hit out strongly but, when he was dismissed at 152 and the last pair were at the wicket, Nelson decided to concede first innings points to Marlborough by declaring.
This ensured Marlborough would finish top of the qualifying group, ahead of Canterbury Country, but also allowed Nelson sufficient time to pick up an outright win and enough points to force their way into the decider.
Their plan relied on them bowling superbly and Marlborough batting poorly in their second innings, and that is exactly what happened.
Nelson’s attack was led by young paceman Jarrod McKay, who bowled with control and venom as the home side succumbed for 108 from 54.4 overs.
Ben Stark, with the key wickets of Ma’ara Ave and Matthew Stretch, also bowled well while Felix Murray continued a fine match with three more scalps as Nelson took total control late on the second day.
The home side’s demise left Nelson a target of 188 from around 40 overs and when the Zohrab twins produced a superb opening partnership of 98 from 16 overs it was always going to be plain sailing.
Thomas Zohrab fell for a well-compiled 50, his brother David for 61, but the classy Greg Hay managed an unbeaten 55 to see Nelson to their target for the loss of only three wickets with several overs to spare.
The three-day Hawke Cup qualifying final, between Nelson and Marlborough, will be staged at Horton Park from February 1-3.
Marlborough 229 (Ma’ara Ave 73, Tarin Mason 44, Felix Murray 3-59, Sam Baxendine 3-36)
Nelson 152-9 declared (Thomas Zohrab 69, Sam Field 29, Nick Weaver 3-30, Jerrym Lamb 2-44)
Marlborough 108 (Arthavidu 26, Jarrod McKay 4-18, Murray 3-24)
Nelson 188-3 (Thomas Zohrab 50, David Zohrab 61, Greg Hay 55 not out).
Nelson win outright (10 points), Marlborough take first innings points (7).
Zone three points: Marlborough 24, Nelson 21, Canterbury Country 18, Buller 0.