Tight bowling helps Valley leap into final
Biddy Kates Celtic will meet Criterion Hotel Wairau Valley in the final of Marlborough senior cricket's Mitre 10 Mega Twenty20 competition after both scored five-wicket wins at Horton Park last night.
Heading into the sixth and final round matches, competition leaders Celtic had already secured their spot in the final, but Valley sat fourth on points behind Grove Tavern Wairau and Guthrie Bowron Renwick. However, Valley knew if they beat Renwick on Horton No 3 and Celtic overcame Wairau on the No 1 ground, they could leapfrog up the ladder and claim the second spot in the February 8 title decider, via a superior net run-rate.
Thanks to a solid all-round bowling effort, Valley restricted Renwick to just 115-8, before positive knocks from Richard Hagen and Blake Parata saw them get across the line in 17 overs, with five wickets in hand. All they needed then was for Celtic to do them a favour.
Wairau managed 158-4 batting first on a flat, easy-paced No 1 surface, but it was not enough. Celtic got there with one over and five wickets to spare, an aggressive half-century to opener Greg Knowles the key innings.
A run-a-ball 33 to young No 4 George Kenny and 21 from 23 to Andrew Marshall were the only knocks of note in Renwick's modest total, the tight Valley bowling attack allowing just four boundaries and two sixes in the 20 overs. Kenny and Marshall combined for easily the biggest partnership of the innings, adding 48 for the fifth wicket in 6.4 overs. Marshall was skittled by Mark Gear at 96-5 and after Kenny hit a return catch to Valley skipper Tim Abrahams in the 18th over, at 104-6, Renwick were able to add only nine more runs.
Seamer Sam Boyce returned the superb figures of 3-18 from his four overs, while Gear took 2-22 and Abrahams bowled three overs and snared two valuable scalps for just 14 runs.
Valley lost Abrahams in the fourth over, but from there they never really looked like losing. Parata hit four fours and two big sixes, making 36 from 23 balls, to get the chase going and when he went at 53-2 Hagen kept the momentum going.
He shared a 24-run stand with Matt McCormick and a 30-run partnership with Matthew Stretch. Hagen fell for 40, including two fours and two sixes, just nine short of victory, but it did not matter as two lusty blows from Richard Franklin (12 off 5) sealed the deal.
Hayden Harris took two wickets for Renwick, while Paddy Dawkins (1-24) and Leatham Landon-Lane (0-16) both bowled four tidy overs.
Wairau openers Mike Hood, 46 off 38, and Regan Chambers, 38 off 30, put on 87 in just over 10 overs against a handy Celtic bowling attack. But, when both fell within an over of each other, it was up to No 3 Colin Wood, 30 off 21, to push his side towards 150. A late cameo from Ben Stark, who hit 21 from 15 balls, got Wairau to what looked to be a defendable total.
Spinner Josh Poole was the pick of the Celtic bowlers, snaring 2-27 from four. Seamer Knowles did not collect a wicket, but only conceded 17 from his four.
After a top effort with the ball, Knowles then played a key role with the bat. He and Sean Neal added a brisk 91 before Neal was the first wicket to fall in the 10th over with the score already at 91. Following 10 fours and one maximum, Knowles was the fourth wicket down at 145, the rep all-rounder bowled by Stark for 68 from just 40 deliveries.
There were a few brief jitters when Landon Neal was the fifth man to go with 13 runs still required, but they eventually got home from the final ball of the 19th over when Gareth Weaver drove the ball to the cover boundary.
Left-arm swing bowler Stark was comfortably the best of the Wairau attack, bagging 3-27 from his four.
The Marlborough Express