A Hawke Cup challenge for Taranaki this summer is looking a long way off after rain denied them the chance to claim maximum points in their match against Wairarapa.
After snaring first-innings points on a sunny Saturday, play was abandoned yesterday without a ball being bowled.
"They escaped," was how a clearly frustrated Taranaki coach Kerry O'Neill described the outcome.
"I guess you can't do much about it, the weather is the weather."
O'Neill said making matters worse was the updates of other matches being played. He said it appeared competition co-leaders Hawke's Bay would beat Wanganui in Napier outright. That would put Hawke's Bay on 20 points. The other co-leaders after round one, Manawatu, had secured at least first-innings points in their match against Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin.
Taranaki went into the match against a Wairarapa side weakened by injury and unavailability wanting maximum points to get back in the challenge race.
Taranaki still had to go out and perform and if there were any doubts about their ability to do so they were quickly dispelled.
The home side produced a complete turnaround in form from their humiliating loss to Manawatu a fortnight before.
Revital Fertilisers Taranaki ripped through the Wairarapa batting line-up, rolling them for just 34 in 24.4 overs.
Opening bowler Robert McLeod bowled well, extracting steep bounce from the pitch and getting the ball to deviate. That troubled the batsmen and McLeod was rewarded with a four-wicket bag.
McLeod was well supported by Josh Barrett, who picked up three wickets.
Taranaki's top order came out and fired immediately, showing control and playing with confidence to put on 243 runs, with Dean Robinson and Dion Ebrahim in great touch scoring centuries before the declaration came at the tea break.
It was Robinson's fourth century for Taranaki and first on Pukekura Park and came off 147 balls in 188 minutes and included 14 fours.
Batting at No 3 after Peter Ingram was nicked out for 28 runs, Ebrahim showed his class to clock up his seventh century in three seasons playing for his adopted province.
His ton came up in 154 minutes off 141 balls.
Wairarapa faced 54 overs in the last session of play on Saturday and at stumps were 52-3. The visitors appeared happy just to block out the bowling rather than score runs.
It could be argued that Taranaki's match tactics were over cautious and after bowling Wairarapa so cheaply Taranaki should have declared their first innings closed earlier.
O'Neill said targets for the team were set during the lunch break on Saturday and the plan was always to give Taranaki a full session after tea to bowl to Wairarapa, which is what happened.
O'Neill did admit, however, the rain arrived earlier yesterday than was expected.
Taranaki's next match in the Hawke Cup series is against Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin on December 15-16.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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