An unbeaten innings of 76 from Jared Stewart led Celtic to a five-wicket win over Wairau Valley in an exciting Marlborough second-grade Twenty20 competition clash at Oliver Park on Thursday night.
Chasing 146 for victory on a well-grassed No 1 wicket, Celtic did not get off to the best start as they were reduced to two for 15 in the third over. Stewart and opener Elliot Robinson steadied the innings and kept the scoreboard ticking over. However, tight bowling from Simon Muir and Chris McMurtrie meant the batsmen had to work hard for their runs.
Showing his experience, Stewart mixed big shots with working ones and twos. However, with 45 needed from the last five overs, it looked as if Celtic had left their run a little late. Stewart, though, kept a level head and with the other batsmen feeding him the strike, it came down to six runs required from the final over.
Valley medium-pace bowler Ethan Gleeson took a wicket to swing the pendulum in Valley's favour. However, that brought Blair Sowman to the wicket and the No 7 batsman drove the ball past Gleeson to the boundary to seal the victory for Celtic.
Earlier, No 4 batsman Chris Hunt anchored Valley's innings with 62, while McMurtrie (26) and Kent Breeze (21) chipped in. Grant Dunn and Patrick Crannitch took two wickets each for Celtic.
Meanwhile, on Oliver No 2, Picton romped to a 77-run win over Wairau.
A half-century to No 3 Blair Bavin (58) and a hard-hit 35 from Joseph Timms at No 7 were the key innings as Picton posted 148 for seven batting first.
Tom Rawcliffe, Lloyd James and Sam Flaherty bagged two wickets apiece for Wairau. In reply, Wairau lost wickets early and were never able to recover. They were out for just 71 in the 10th over.
Top spells from Ian Tyler (3-14) and Timms (3-20) did the bulk of the damage for Picton.
Celtic 146-5 (J Stewart 76 no) beat Wairau Valley 145-6 (C Hunt 62, C McMurtrie 26, K Breeze 21, G Dunn 2-17, P Crannitch 2-21).
Picton 148-7 (B Bavin 58, J Timms 35, T Rawcliffe 2-25, L James 2-29, S Flaherty 2-31) beat Wairau 71 (I Tyler 3-14, J Timms 3-20).
- The Marlborough Express