Win puts Nelson top of table
Story by: WAYNE MARTIN - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes
Nelson's zone three Hawke Cup cricket campaign remains squarely on track after coasting to a nine-wicket outright win over Buller yesterday at Saxton Oval.
A brief period of rain yesterday and some resolute second-innings batting by Buller might have slowed Car Company Nelson's victory march somewhat, but they could not prevent the inevitable as Nelson joined Marlborough at the head of the zone-three points table.
Both now have 23 points from three matches, three points clear of Canterbury Country who have a game in hand after wrapping up an outright win over West Coast in Rangiora on Saturday.
Nelson had also looked headed for the easiest of wins after dismissing Buller for just 48 runs during Saturday's opening session before amassing 239 for two declared in reply. However, Buller showed significantly more steel in their second innings as two half-century partnerships continued to deny Nelson's bowlers until well into yesterday's second day.
Only two of Buller's batsmen had managed double figures in Saturday's first innings, No3 batsman Dean Bermingham top scoring with 14 runs and Matt Ansley adding 11 from No9 as five batsmen were dismissed without scoring on a variable pitch.
Darius Skeaping enjoyed the major spoils, the right-arm seamer finishing with 5-26 off his 10 overs, although the man who had sparked Buller's initial slump, Joe O'Connor, returned immaculate figures of 3-4 off 10 overs, including six maidens. Connor Neynens was Nelson's other successful bowler, taking 2-6, leaving Marty King to complete another economical spell, conceding just 11 runs off seven overs without reward.
It took Nelson only 44 overs to secure first-innings points, 31 to bowl Buller out and another 13 to pass their total as openers Dan Cooper and Marty Kain comfortably and positively negotiated Nelson's run chase.
The two left-handers combined for 111 runs in their opening stand, Kain top-scoring for the innings with 76 off just 58 balls, including 11 fours and two sixes, as all four Nelson batsmen posted half centuries before the declaration eventually came in Saturday's final session. Cooper scored 50 off 91 balls, hitting six fours and six, before he was caught at square leg at 142 for two, leaving Greg Hay and Ricky Edwards to carry the innings through to the declaration in an unbroken 97-run third-wicket stand.
Hay remained 52 not out and Edwards 57 not out off only 39 balls, Hay collecting seven fours and Edwards eight fours and a six in an entertaining partnership.
Ahead by 191 runs, Nelson again struck early in Buller's second innings as King claimed the cheap wickets of Craig Adams (1) and Glen Duncan (5), both bowled, at 25 for two. However, any prospect of another Buller collapse steadily evaporated as Bermingham, promoted to open the innings, joined Andrew Duncan in a dogged salvage operation.
The pair bravely carried the total through to 102 for two at stumps on Saturday, Bermingham ending the day in sight of a half century on 48, with Duncan unbeaten at the other end on 39.
Bermingham's resistance ended quickly yesterday, caught at backward square leg off the day's third ball without adding to his score and giving Skeaping his sixth wicket for the match. Having compiled a 77-run stand with Bermingham, Duncan then joined his skipper Troy Scanlon in another 70-run fourth-wicket partnership as Nelson's bowlers worked painstakingly to effect a breakthrough.
After scoring a century in Buller's upset first-innings win over Nelson two seasons ago on the same ground, Scanlon was happy to play the supporting role to Duncan yesterday as the pair continued to deny Nelson's attack.
With Duncan playing the aggressor's role, Scanlon faced 113 balls, batting for 2hr 5min for just 18 runs, the partnership finally ended when Duncan edged offspinner BJ Barnett to Greg Hay at slip for 87 runs at 172 for four.
Buller lost their next three wickets for 27 runs, before a 26-run eighth-wicket stand between Jesse Elley (28) and Matt Ansley (25) offered some more late defiance. Elley's dismissal required some clever work by O'Connor on the long on boundary, the fielder having to retrieve his own infield flick to avoid taking the ball across the boundary line off Kain's bowling.
A further 31-run partnership between Ansley and Michael Anderson (18) compounded Nelson's frustration as Buller at least ensured an extended workload for Nelson's batsmen.
King finally ended the innings at 256 with consecutive deliveries, having Anderson caught at cover and Ansley by a diving Neynens at midoff, to finish with 4-13 off his seven overs. Nelson's spinners earned some rewards for their considerable efforts, left-armer Kain taking 2-58 off 27 and Barnett 2-47 off 19, with Hay claiming the other wicket from three overs of offspin.
Set 66 runs for victory, Nelson lost only Kain in their run chase, bowled for 37 off 40 balls with victory in sight at 56 for one. Fellow opener Cooper remained unbeaten on 14 at the finish, Barnett (13 not out) hitting three consecutive boundaries, including a final pull through midwicket, to end the contest at 69 for one.