Coasters put up a fight in Hawke Cup opener
Phase one of Nelson's zone 3 Hawke Cup campaign went according to plan as they completed a convincing innings and 13-run win over West Coast yesterday.
While no-one had imagined anything other than outright victory against a traditionally outclassed Coast team, the visitors this time showed significantly more second-innings bottle by at least dragging the contest into the second session of day two at Saxton Oval.
With the Coasters beaten outright on the first day of their two previous encounters, it was just after yesterday's lunch break when Nelson offspinner B J Barnett captured Coast's last wicket to finally dismiss them for a dogged 224 runs in their second innings.
They'd managed a paltry 73 in their first innings, in response to Nelson's superb effort of 310 for 1 declared, Nelson's innings highlighted by matching unbeaten centuries from opening batsman Dan Cooper and the conspicuously in-form Greg Hay.
Enforcing the follow-on, Nelson struggled for breakthroughs late on day one as Coast defiantly headed to stumps at 86 for 2. A flat Saxton Oval pitch and some frustrating Coast resistance meant a tougher workload than many had anticipated for Nelson's bowling attack. But persistence and hard work paid dividends as Coast's final seven wickets fell yesterday for just 96 runs.
Everything had fallen nicely into place for Nelson on Saturday after being sent in to bat, as Cooper and fellow left-hander Marty Kain proceeded to take Coast's bowling apart.
Kain adopted his customary forthright approach, hitting 67 runs off just 38 balls as he and Cooper compiled a brisk 98 runs in their opening stand. Kain's innings included 13 boundaries, his 50 coming off just 28 balls, before he edged seamer Nik Cumming to first slip to give the Coasters some hope of a reprieve from the early onslaught.
It was to be Coast's only success, as Cooper and Hay compounded their anxiety with a magnificent unbroken 212-run partnership. Cooper offered the only chance when he was dropped at deep mid-on with his score on 73. Otherwise, the pair batted clinically and positively to both finish unbeaten on 112 at the declaration, each having hit 17 boundaries, Cooper's innings compiled off 180 balls and Hay's chanceless knock off just 118.
The response from Nelson's bowlers was swift and effective, West Coast offering little resistance as wickets fell at an alarming rate. Only an assured 30 from No 6 batsman Nathan Wingham, who'd previously bowled 17 unrewarded overs of useful offspin, prevented an even more substantial collapse. None of the other batsmen managed double figures.
Pace bowler Joe O'Connor took 4-22, including the innings' final two wickets off consecutive balls, while Kain continued his typically productive allround contribution with 3-15 off six overs. Called in as a late replacement for an injured Marty King, pace bowler Dean Hawley contributed effectively to take 1-8 off his five overs as Connor Neynens and Dylan Eginton each picked up a wicket.
Enforcing the follow-on, Nelson's hopes of another Coast capitulation proved unfounded as opening batsman Luke McNeish and Cumming dug in following early Nelson success at 46 for 2. The pair were still together at stumps, McNeish unbeaten on 34 and Cumming on 18, as Coast carried their total through to 86 for 2.
It was almost 55 minutes into yesterday's first session before Nelson finally secured the breakthrough, McNeish top-edging an attempted pull shot off Neynens to Hawley in the covers for 58 to end an 82-run partnership and pump some fresh resolve into Nelson's attack.
With batting conditions by now at their best, a composed Cumming continued his measured approach, ultimately facing 126 balls before his was the seventh wicket to fall for 36, with the total at 172. Simon Gallop (14) and Reid Gibbens (23) kept their team-mates amused and animated with some late defiance before Nelson wrapped up the tail to leave Hawley (2-40), Eginton (2-32), an economical Neynens (2-42) and Kain (3-29) rewarded for their patience.
Nelson face a much tougher assignment next weekend when they head to Blenheim for their zone 3 clash with Marlborough.
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