Manawatu nail Hawke Cup challenge

Appropriately, captain Luke Murray's century in the innings and 54-runs win over Wairarapa at Manawaroa Park yesterday came with a Hawke Cup challenge nailed down against Bay of Plenty.

Yesterday he scored 146 in the win over Wairarapa, similar to his knock of 136 when Manawatu amassed 659 as they defended the Hawke Cup against BOP at Fitzherbert Park in 2010.

But afterwards, Murray's effort was tinged with disappointment.

"I can't play in the challenge. I have my best mate's wedding the same weekend," he said.

"It was definitely good to get a ton in a game like that to help secure a challenge."

The 146 was his sixth ton for Manawatu and was experience personified. Bevan Small, who came in at No 5, batted in pain from his chronic rib injury to score 101 not out. It followed 118 not out for Freyberg on December 10.

Murray played lots of nice shots as he progressed from his overnight score of 79. Once he was out, he declared at 343 for three at high noon, a lead of 148 after Wairarapa's first innings of 195.

His second-wicket partnership with Mitchell Renwick (66) reaped 113 runs and 206 runs off 236 balls for the third-wicket partnership with Small who hit 17 fours and a six. Renwick was also racing until adjudged lbw.

The downsides were Dane Cleaver hobbling off his back problems, player-coach Mike Mason not bowling yesterday (sore back) and after taking guard for his third ball, David Meiring's back went out too and he retired hurt.

All the while, the news from other venues was positive. Taranaki weren't going to give second-placed Hawke's Bay a sausage at Pukekura Park.

"The outright would always secure us the challenge, no matter about other results," said Murray. "The boys bowled their guts out."

BOP went mad at Hamilton, scoring 701 runs to Hawke Cup holder Hamilton City's 255, to take the Cup to Tauranga.

Wairarapa had lasted 68 overs on Saturday, pacemen Navin Patel and Bryn Templeman sharing six wickets between them. Three catches went down but there was plenty of good cricket.

Manawatu didn't mess about with the bat. In the second last ball of the day in the 44th over, Small hit a four to pass Wairarapa for the precious first-innings points.

Yesterday, four Wairarapa batsmen tumbled with the total on 48 and by 3.02pm it was all over. Tim Richards, with his inswinging slow-mediums, lured them into loosening up and sent five of them packing.

"So far we've done the job, we've won every game and we deserve to be where we are," said Mason.

It seemed a waste that Manawatu's Roald Badenhorst was carrying the drinks for Central Districts at Napier. He and opener Jamie How will be invited to play in the challenge but Ross Taylor will probably have Black Caps' commitments.

Manawatu Standard