The Newman Shield is back in Nelson hands after their senior cricket representatives completed a clinical victory over Marlborough at Horton Park on Sunday.
Marlborough, who won the toss and elected to bat first, were bowled out for 205 in the 49th over, setting a mediocre target on a good batting deck.
Nelson paced their run chase superbly, reaching 207 for the loss of just three wickets in the 48th over.
The visitors suffered a setback before play began, keeper Jack Aldridge injuring his ankle in the warm-up, being replaced behind the stumps by coach Ryan Edwards.
The disruption did little to affect Nelson’s early efforts, paceman Josh McKay finding the edge of Ma’ara Ave’s bat in the very first over.
However Prabodha Arthavidu joined Tom Sutherland at the crease and the pair set about building a partnership. They looked comfortable, taking quick singles to rotate the strike, before Sutherland ran himself out after misjudging a push to a close-in fielder.
Skipper Matthew Stretch then joined Arthavidu and the pair amassed the game’s largest partnership. Both batted positively, content to wait for loose deliveries, putting on 98 runs together as the home side began to take control. However, at 132-2 in the 28th over medium pacer Thomas Zohrab got the key breakthrough, trapping the Sri Lankan in front for a well-compiled 51 from 64 balls.
Five runs later Stretch followed him back to the pavilion, bowled by Zohrab for 49 from 63 balls and the tide began to turn.
Jerrym Lamb set about resurrecting the innings, scoring a patient 24 from 38 balls, but was unable to find a batting partner until No 8 Tarin Mason arrived at the crease. The pair put on 33 but when Mason (16 from 42) and Lamb fell in the 190s the writing was on the wall and Marlborough were bowled out with 10 balls remaining to be bowled.
Zohrab finished with the outstanding figures of 5-24 from 10 overs, his accuracy and variations reaping a rich reward. McKay bagged 2-33 from 9.2, Max Mannering and David Zohrab grabbing the other wickets to fall.
Nelson set out the run chase in a sensible, sedate fashion. Openers Zohrab and Finn Raxworthy had reached 31 before Zohrab departed.
However, this brought Nelson’s best batsman, the vastly-experienced Greg Hay, to the wicket and he underlined his class with an unbeaten 83 from 113 balls to guide his side home without undue fuss.
He lost Raxworthy, who scored a solid 56 from 83 balls, at 117 but then found a reliable ally in Patrick Howes (21 from 32) who helped take the score to 154 before falling to a superb outfield catch by Arthavidu.
Despite the home side’s efforts to put Nelson under scoreboard pressure in the final overs, Hay and new batsman David Zohrab (19* from 26) ensured there would be nervous moments by slamming three consecutive boundaries in the 48th over to seal the deal.
Marlborough’s bowlers worked hard for little reward, Sam Boyce with 1-32 from 10 being among the most economical. Nick Weaver and Stretch picked up the other wickets to fall.
Marlborough coach Jarrod Englefield, while disappointed to open the season with the loss of a prized trophy, was happy with some areas of his side’s game.
“The positive thing is that we got two guys that created a good partnership and were well set, the disadvantage is that they didn’t kick on … and we also failed to bat our 50 overs which always hurts. With the runs we were definitely 20 to 25 runs short, minimum.
“If we had got through to 225-230 that would have made a tougher chase, but the reality is that we lost three wickets around the 25th over and then we finished poorly, so in the end we were just too many runs short.”
Looking ahead to next weekend’s Chapple Cup tournament in Napier, Englefield remains confident his side can make a strong showing.
“There was a lot of positive stuff today. We didn’t get the result but we have a lot of good players in this team and we got starts, it’s all about key learnings … what we can learn from this game to make us better heading into the next one.
“We have come a long way in the last three years, there’s a lot of good stuff happening, we were pretty rusty today, especially in the field, our accuracy was pretty low. We need to work on that but we can go up [to Napier] with confidence.”
Nelson Griffins skipper David Zohrab said it was good to get their hands back on the shield, especially given the close games between the two top of the south rivals in recent times.
“It’s been nice to get one over [Marlborough] again. It’s been tit-for-tat recently, they had the wood over us last year with the draw and a win, so it’s good to start our rep season with a win.
“Today was a great hit-out. We have a relatively young, inexperienced side so it was good to blood a few players. Finn Raxworthy batted really well in only his second game … it was very positive to see that from a young player.
Also Thomas Zohrab bowled well and his figures showed that … Artha and Stretchy were batting well and looking dangerous and [Thomas] blunted that and got through them, really opened them up, which was nice for us.”