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Key time for Coastal teams

Ojas Patel has impressed with his left arm spin in recent games. PHOTOS/FILE

United’s backs to the wall

CRICKET

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Burger King Red Star are missing two important players but welcome back two others for today’s crucial Coastal Challenge Championship clash away to Paraparaumu.

Stefan Hook, who has become a genuine all-rounder with his medium-fast bowling and useful top-order batting, is out for the season after suffering a serious knee injury while bowling his first delivery in last Saturday’s loss to Levin Old Boys. The club’s hard-hitting opener Robbie Anderson is unavailable.

Their absence, however, is offset by the return of medium-slow pace bowler Pete Sigvertsen and talented middle-order batter Mark Steventon, who was a late withdrawal from last weekend’s line-up.

George Deans is back in the Red Star line-up after three years.

An interesting addition is that of former Wairarapa representative George Deans, who has returned to the district after three years away.

A useful middle-lower order batter, Deans bowled off-spin, but has now reverted to bowling medium pace.

Kuranui College and Wairarapa Under-17 leg-spinner Alex Cross will also get his first taste of Coastal Challenge cricket.

He will share the slow bowling duties with left-arm spinner Ojas Patel, who impressed with his control of line and length against Levin, taking 1-28
off nine accurate overs.

Although not fielding their strongest XI, Red Star captain Nathan Elliott is confident the team can give the defending and three-time champions a good run for their money

“I know that they’re a very strong, and they have beaten us a fair bit in the past. It will be a very hard game to win, but I back our chances,” Elliott said.

Too many Red Star batters were guilty of playing cross bat shots on a difficult Queen Elizabeth Park Oval last Saturday, with seven of the dismissals either bowled or lbw.

Red Star skipper Nathan Elliott says Paraparaumu match will be tough. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Elliott, however, expects conditions at Kena Kena Park to be more batter friendly and backs his batters to post a good total, with the probability of batting first should he win the toss.

“The pitch over there is normally pretty good and has a bit of pace. It’s possibly not as strong a team I would like, but we still bat down to eight, and it’s just a matter of a few of us putting our hands up and knuckling down.”

Red Star are third-equal with Whanganui Marist, but fourth on net run rate, behind Levin Old Boys and Paraparaumu, who are both unbeaten.

A win for Red Star would not only enhance their chances of making their third consecutive semifinal, with possibly a home advantage, but it would also be a massive confidence boost after their inept performance last weekend.

A loss, however, would probably mean the Masterton club would have to win their last two round-robin matches to qualify for the playoffs.

The position is far more precarious for Wairarapa’s second team in the Coastal Challenge. United are winless and bottom of the table after four rounds.

There was hope that Central Stag Seth Rance would make a rare appearance for the combined side against Whanganui United at Greytown today, but the medium-pacer confirmed he has to rest with tendonitis in the ankle, which will also keep him out of the next match of the Plunket Shield against Northern Districts starting next Friday.

Rance would have brought a positive influence to United after they defaulted last weekend’s game against Weraroa in Levin, because of a lack of numbers.

The 34-year-old was in scintillating form in the Ford Trophy One-Day Championship for the Central Stags, who were unbeaten in the round-robin only to lose the final to the Auckland Aces.

He finished as one of the leading wicket-takers with 12 at an average of 15.08, and took his tally of List A wickets to 101.

A win is vital for United to revive their semifinal prospects, and if near full-strength, are more than capable of beating their Whanganui counterparts, who are also without a win after two rounds.

United showed in making the final of the Coastal Challenge two-day competition against Kapiti Old Boys that they have the talent to be a threat at this level, but the lack of players willing to commit to the side has to be a serious concern, especially with their final two games away in Whanganui and Levin.

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