The Stags headed to Hamilton desperately seeking a win after back-to-back losses. Would round three deliver the goods against a hot and cold ND side? And would the weather play ball after washing out the other two matches on Sunday 22 January 2017?
How it happened
• A green-tinged deck. Approaching weather. The possibility of a DLS chase. What would you do? Dean Brownlie decided to bat; the Stags would have done the same. May have been a good toss to lose, Joe Carter caught off seamer Seth Rance after just two legitimate balls in the first over.
• Rance quickly made it two, nipping one back into a crestfallen Bharat Popli on white ball debut for ND. As his off stump cartwheeled away, Popli became Rance’s 50th List A and Ford Trophy wicket.
• The Stags had called in a shock addition to their injury-hit bowling attack, former captain Kieran Noema-Barnett playing his first Ford Trophy match since the 2015 Final at Colin Maiden Park, which the Stags won. Playing as an overseas pro on account of being signed up to Gloucestershire on a UK passport, Noema-Barnett opened the bowling alongside Rance and didn’t look for a minute like someone who had just been rolling his arm over in a few club games over Christmas in Hawke’s Bay, just two singles off his first over setting the tone for a tidy 0-10 off his first four-over spell.
• Survivors Brownlie and Nick Kelly made a cautious start, the first boundary appearing in the ninth over from Kelly’s bat. The briefest of rain interruptions followed, nuisance showers that would come back to taunt the second innings half a dozen times.
• The ND pair treated change duo Blair Tickner and George Worker with respect at first, Kelly the more aggressive before Brownlie finally unleashed in the 18th over. He was without the services of Daniel Flynn, who had re-injured his hip in the field in the previous match, but Aussie-born Kiwi Kelly stepped up to the mark with his maiden List A fifty in just his fourth game, off 65 balls, and piling on a 100-stand off 125 balls with his captain.
• Just as he was looking good, a decisive moment as he went down the crease to Ajaz Patel only for Dane Cleaver to rip off his bails. The umpires’ call was a runout, although spectators at square felt Cleaver had been robbed of a stumping. He probably wasn’t unhappy either way: sharp work.
• That was over 26 and Brownlie would depart soon afterwards, run out going for a quick single while Blair Tickner raced him and completed a great piece of fielding off his own bowling: 126/4.
• That saw Scott Kuggeleijn join Daryl Mitchell in the middle, two dangermen getting underway. Mitchell quickly found a trademark straight six for the Seddon Park embankment. Young brought Rance back on and Mitchell pumped him for 14 runs off an over. As he swiped a third six off Noema-Barnett, things were looking good for the hosts — until two balls later, captain Young pulled off a piece of brilliance, scoring a direct hit with his throw from the boundary to run out Kuggeleijn on 12.
• Joined by Tim Seifert, Mitchell was just a fingertip away from a quick half century now — on 49* as another shower interrupted play. He kept his composure, clocked up his 50 then watched the aggressive and inventive Seifert slap the ball for a couple of sixes as they put the ND 200 up on the tins in the 43rd over, locked in a competitive battle with Tickner (0-52) and George Worker (0-60).
• Rance and Noema-Barnett returned to start the death overs with Mitchell on for a hundred, having put on 75 with Seifert off just 57 balls. Seifert was caught on 38 to give Noema-Barnett a well deserved comeback wicket, Mitchell on 85* joined by Brett Hampton.
• Time was running out for Mitchell to reach a century with just nine runs left in the innings, but the batsmen had crossed and he boomed a six next ball to keep it alive, moving into the 90s. But with only eight runs from the 50th, he was left stranded on 93 off 85 balls.
• The winless Stags’ initial target was 267 runs at just over five per over, but the coming rain stoppages would push that equation up to more than eight.
• Kuggeleijn and Brett Randell would open the ND attack with Kuggeleijn the first to strike, getting the big wicket of Worker caught behind early.
• Fellow opener Ben Smith would go on to play an anchor role on a slow deck, while new partner Jesse Ryder made a promising start, racing to 18 off 20 before a rain break stalled the first power play. He would be caught after the resumption, triggering the introduction of Ish Sodhi into the attack fresh from having taken a brilliant 6-11 for the Adelaide Strikers in BBL 2017.
• The weather then kicked up a fuss, sending a succession of squalls across the ground. The match was paused on 17.2 overs for an hour or so as the groundsmen worked non-stop to soak up the precipitation and, when Sodhi finally resumed his over, it brought quick success as he bamboozled Will Young with his final ball. Then he got Tom Bruce stumped, too: two huge wickets for little damage.
• The Stags had meanwhile been facing a revised DLS ask of 200 runs at RPO 8.8, as well as needing to get to 20 overs for the match to stand, with lingering uncertainty on the western horizon. Now that required RPO was climbing. Dane Cleaver came in and punched Brett Hampton onto the road, via a now-dented car roof. But Hampton quickly had his revenge, Cleaver caught on 10. Which was soon also to be the required run rate as Josh Clarkson made his way to the middle.
• Clarkson was coming off back to back fifties including a career best unbeaten 70 but, after a few sighters, at 113/5 with eight overs left, when Clarkson lost the company of first Smith then Noema-Barnett, the Stags were at pretty long odds.
• Rance came to the wicket at the beginning of the 27th over, and boomed a six even before Clarkson as he sped out to 21* off just 12 balls. Four overs remained, and the Stags still needed 47 runs. WASP was still unkindly at two per cent, despite 12 off the over.
• Clarkson slammed a four off Jono Boult first ball of the next over, then smoked his first six to catch up with the game Rance, making use of the gusty wind. They ran a single, then Rance went over the rope again: 22 runs would go sailing off the over.
• Just eight off Mitchell’s next over: now the pair needed 16 from the final two overs. Single. Two. Single …. and wicket! Boult had Rance caught for a career-best 32 off 19 balls. He had helped put on 63 for the eighth wicket, but they weren't yet out of the woods.
• Nailbiter, now. The batsmen had crossed, so Clarkson was on strike. Boom! Six. Boom again! Six more, and the scores were suddenly level. ND heads dropped as Clarkson glove-punched Ajaz Patel, knowing they had it in the bag with an over to come. A single next ball confirmed it: the Stags had got up for a remarkable two-wicket win, and were on the board at last.
Clarkson, who had turned 20 the day before, finished unbeaten on 48 off just 24 balls. The Stags moved up to fifth and now head to Auckland to face the table-topping Aces this Wednesday, while ND go to Whangarei to host Jimmy Neesham's bottom-placed Volts.