Tigers pounce on chance to make historic final
Invercargill's Metro Tigers have created history in the Southland-Otago knockout cricket competition by becoming the first non-Dunedin team to advance to the final.
The Tigers upset leading Dunedin side Green Island by three wickets in yesterday's semifinal at the Metro ground at Queens Park to book a place in the final on December 16.
It was a real team performance from the Tigers, who were able to restrict Green Island to 149 all out, batting first. Several players then made valuable contributions with the bat as they reached their target with 11 balls to spare.
Green Island made a solid start to the game, putting on 43 runs for the opening stand, before losing two quick wickets.
From then on Metro were able to pick up wickets at regular stages throughout the innings, with Green Island never able to establish any significant partnerships.
Various Green Island batsmen got a start, but just as they were looking established, the Tigers struck.
It was a disciplined bowling effort from the Tigers with all of their frontline bowlers producing economical figures and chiming in with wickets.
Spinner James Crisp was outstanding with the ball, nabbing three wickets for 23 runs from his 10 overs, while youngster Brayden Lindsay was also effective with two for 25 from his 10 overs. Rajinder Singh and Hamish Cooke both chipped in with two wickets for the Tigers.
Tigers' captain Mark Beer said there was a positive feeling in the side at the break between innings and he had been confident they could chase down Green Island's total if they applied themselves at the wicket.
In reply, Metro lost Mitchell van Schaik and Henry Burns early, but the in-form Ryan Duffy got his team back on track, scoring a patient 44 from 98 balls to help steady the ship.
He was ably assisted by the talented Cooke, who added 37, and combined for a useful partnership with Duffy.
Green Island gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they got rid of Duffy and Cooke, but skipper Beer ensured his team safely reached their target, finishing with an unbeaten 25. Ritchie was the best of the Green Island bowlers, taking two for 34, with opening bowler Dion Lobb also grabbing two wickets for 33 runs.
Beer praised his team-mates after the game and said all 11 players played their part in the victory.
"That's probably the most satisfying thing.
"Everyone in these last two knockout games has contributed. Everyone is scoring runs and taking wickets.
"We're fielding really well too," Beer said.
"Ryan Duffy was outstanding.
"He did a great job and got us into a situation where the guys coming in only needed to score 20 to win."
In other cricket yesterday, the Southland XI took on Otago under-19 on the main wicket at Queens Park in a lead-up clash to this weekend's opening Hawke Cup fixture against Otago Country in Alexandra. It was an important game for several fringe players, who were looking to catch the attention of coach Steve Jackson and push for a place in the squad.
Otago under-19 were dismissed for 203 all out in the 49th over, batting first, with Albion's Michael Gratton the best of the Southland bowlers with three wickets for 51.
The Southland XI opted for time in the middle with the bat, rather than trying to chase down the Otago under-19 score.
They finished at 112 for four from their 50 overs with openers Gratton (28) and Simon Wadworth (26) both getting starts. Riversdale's Hamish Blakely ended the game on 23 not out.
Meanwhile, Appleby have won the inaugural Southland club declaration title after Saturday's final round of games was washed out due to bad weather.
Appleby finished two points clear of Gore club Albion in the standings.
Southland Cricket introduced the 110-over declaration competition this season to better prepare players for Hawke Cup representative cricket.
The 50-over senior club cricket competition starts on Saturday.
Green Island 149 all out (47 overs) R Ritchie 24 not out, J Munro 22, S Simpson 21. J Crisp 3-23, R Singh 2-23, B Lindsay 2-25, H Cooke 2-32 Metro Tigers 150/7 (48.1 overs) R Duffy 44, H Cooke 37, M Beer 25 not out. D Lobb 2-33, R Ritchie 2-34
The Southland Times