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Hawke Cup match evenly-poised

Marlborough’s pivotal zone three Hawke Cup qualifying clash with Nelson is evenly-poised heading into day two tomorrow.

Winning the toss and opting to bat first, Marlborough scored 291 before being dismissed in the 107

th

over. In reply, Nelson are 1-1 after facing a testing three overs before stumps were drawn at Horton Park tonight.

The home side made a less-than-impressive start to a match which will decide who earns the right to challenge Canterbury Country for the Cup next weekend.

Ben Ivory-McCullum fell early, adjudged lbw to impressive medium pacer Dylan Eginton in just the second over.

Fellow opener Chris Bartholomeusz and No 3 Andrew McCaa set about forging a worthwhile partnership but had added only 27 more runs before Bartholomeusz (13) fell, well caught down low by Felix Murray from Thomas Zohrab’s bowling. McCaa (16) perished soon after, skying an attempted pull shot, also off Zohrab.

Skipper Matthew Stretch (21) and Jerrym Lamb (11) both looked settled at the crease but fell cheaply, their loss leaving the home side teetering at 78-5.

The arrival of former Black Cap Ben Wheeler at the crease sparked a mini-recovery and initiated a series of handy middle to lower-order partnerships that dragged Marlborough back into the match.

He and Tarin Mason put together a 56-run partnership before Wheeler, who scored 52 from 77 balls, was strangled down the leg side off the bowling of spinner Harsh Visavadiya.

Mason and new batsman Akhil Pant continued the fightback, taking the score to 165-7 before Mason (33 from 102 balls) also fell to Visavadiya.

Pant found another worthy ally in Tom Sutherland, the duo’s positive approach setting the tone for the day’s best partnership, 88 runs in relatively quick time.

When Pant fell for a free-flowing 65 in 116 balls, Marlborough had scored 253-8 and were well back in the game.

The tail wagged enough for the home side to add a further 38 runs, which may prove vital in the final outcome. Sutherland, not out on 49 from 122 balls, narrowly missed a deserved half century.

Nelson used eight bowlers on a slowish wicket, Josh Newport (2-52 from 16) and Eginton (1-42 from 15) impressive at the top, Zohrab (2-44 from 21) both economic and, on occasion, threatening.

Visavadiya (2-48 from 17) was also impressive, while Joey O’Connor (2-17 from seven) picked up a couple of late wickets.

Three overs were required to be bowled before stumps, a nasty proposition for the visiting openers.

Nick Weaver and Bailey Andrews-Kennedy ran in hard, the latter rewarded when he picked up the key wicket of Zohrab with his first delivery, well caught by keeper Ivory-McCullum.

Play resumes at 10.30am tomorrow.