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United target first Coastal Challenge trophy

Kishan Dhiman plays a shot in his 70 against Whanganui Marist. PHOTOS/FILE


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United are aiming to create a bit of history by becoming the first Wairarapa side to win a trophy in the Coastal Challenge in this weekend’s two-day final against Kapiti Old Boys at Paraparaumu Domain.

In the three years since Wairarapa teams entered the combined competition with Horowhenua-Kapiti and Whanganui the best achievements have been semifinal appearances by Burger King Red Star in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

United made this weekend’s final with a narrow two-wicket victory over Red Star in a rain-affected game, followed by an easy first-innings win over Whanganui Marist, while Kapiti progressed with outright victories over defending Coastal Challenge champions Paraparaumu, and 2019-20 champions Levin Old Boys.

This final, however, is a different proposition, with this season being the first that two-day games have been played in the Coastal Challenge.

United will be close to full strength, although the unavailability of veteran all-rounder Robbie Speers is a big blow.

Speers’ leg spin would have been ideal on the Paraparaumu Domain pitch, while he’s capable of scoring big runs in the middle order. His absence is offset with the return of the experienced Jaco Vorster, who has been in top form having scored a century for Post Office Hotel Wairarapa in a Furlong Cup match against Whanganui in December.

Vorster’s accurate medium pace bowling has also proved to be a handful for opposition batters in recent seasons, with his ability to take advantage of any variation in bounce and pace.

The batting line-up has a strong look, headed by John McKenzie and Kishan Dhiman, who put on 65 for the opening wicket against Marist, followed by captain Jared van Deventer, wicketkeeper Andrew Taylor, Vorster, Gus Borren, Hunter Wyeth, and prolific Wairarapa College batter Samuel Payne.

Sanjay Patel’s accurate slow bowling will be vital on a Paraparaumu Domain pitch noted for providing variable bounce and pace.

Underrated medium pacer Gurdev Singh heads the bowling attack, with Borren his likely opening partner.

Payne and Vorster provide the medium pace support, with Regan Fricker and Sanjay Patel the slow bowling options.

Van Deventer admits the game is a bit of an unknown for both teams, with their only other meeting this season a T20 match in October, won by Kapiti.

“We held them pretty well in the T20, but we see this is as a really good opportunity to win some silverware,” said van Deventer.

Kapiti have a more than useful top order, including former Horowhenua-Kapiti captain Andre Halbert, although their strength will more likely come in the shape of their experienced representative seam bowling attack headed by Carter Andrews and Zac Benton.

Van Deventer said if the United top order can see off the new ball threat that will hold them in good stead to post a big score on the small Paraparaumu Domain ground.

“We’re confident, but we won’t be complacent. We’re two really evenly matched sides.” Van Deventer said.

The United team to play Kapiti Old Boys:

Jared van Deventer, John McKenzie, Kishan Dhiman, Andrew Taylor, Jaco Vorster, Gus Borren, Hunter Wyeth, Samuel Payne, Sanjay Patel, Gurdev Singh, Regan Fricker

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