Singh steps straight into the hot seat

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2014
Amarpreet Singh
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
STEPPING UP: Amarpreet Singh in action for Old Boys.

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Southern Institute of Technology student Amarpreet Singh will make his Hawke Cup debut for Southland this week in the most important game of the season.

Southland travel to Palmerston North to take on current holders Manawatu in an attempt to bring the Hawke Cup back to Southland for the first time since 1992.

Southland coach Steve Jackson has brought Singh into the side as their overseas player to try and bolster the batting stocks for the crunch game.

Singh raised eyebrows early in the club season with his dynamic form for Invercargill-Old Boys and as a result he played for Southland in a warmup game against Otago under-19 where he scored an impressive 97.

With just one overseas player permitted in Hawke Cup fixtures Singh initially missed out to fellow Indian SIT student Akash Christian for the first game of the season against North Otago.

Singh then returned to India missing the next three southern zone Hawke Cup fixtures but made a timely return to Invercargill last week to be included in the Southland side to take on Manawatu in the three-day game starting on Friday.

While Southland were the form side on the way to winning the southern zone Hawke Cup section this season the big question remains as to whether they have the enough runs in them to win the symbol of supremacy for minor association cricket in New Zealand.

On a pitch and outfield at Fitzherbert Park which traditionally delivers plenty of runs a first innings total of 300-plus is most probably a must which in turn means a century is needed from at least one player in the top six.

In four games this season no player in the Southland setup has reached that three-figure mark.

Shaun Fitzgibbon's 147 runs from five innings at an average of 29 is the best batting record in the squad this season which highlights how most in the Southland batting unit will need to turn in their best performance of the 2013/14 season to win the Hawke Cup.

Hamish Cooke has also been drafted back into the Southland team for the game against Manawatu. Cooke played the first game against North Otago but a back injury limited his involvement after that.

From the team that played against Otago Country in Southland's last outing Rhuebyn Prattley drops out because of a struggle with the bat this season, while spinner Khanin Saikia also misses out with key bowler Craig Smith returning after being unavailable for the last fixture.

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- Fairfax Media

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