Hamilton Boys’ High School have enjoyed a vice like grip on the Super 8 cricket title, but the trophy nearly slipped through their grasp at the recent edition of the annual tournament in Hamilton.
In the final against Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Hamilton appeared to be coasting to victory. Hamilton was 110 for 2 chasing a modest 172. Captain Dilan Nanayakkara explains what happened next.
“I was well set on 43 when I chipped the ball gently back to the bowler for a caught and bowled. I was really annoyed with the way I got out. It was a soft dismissal after working so hard,” he laments.
A rot set in for Hamilton and a flurry of wickets tumbled. With 49 runs required from 90 balls and with 5 wickets in hand, the equation seemed a mere formality for the hosts. However in the space of half an hour, the equation became much more difficult, as 36 was required from 60 balls with 4 wickets in hand and soon 24 from 42 with a solitary wicket remaining.
“It was a wet, slow wicket and Palmerston North bowled really well. We started terribly, but managed to steady the ship. When wickets started falling again it was hard to arrest the momentum back,” Nanayakkara concedes.
Fortunately Hamilton’s batting runs deep. No.11 Declan O’Brien is capable of batting much higher in the order.
“We’ve got a lot of good batsmen in our team, it’s definitely our strength this year. Declan could properly bat at six or seven if needed,” Nanayakkara says.
With the support of middle order batsman Jack Devane (53 not out), Hamilton gradually reduced the target, but not without major anxiety.
“With about 12 runs needed there was nearly a run out. The ball was struck just wide of mid on and the two batsmen hesitated mid pitch. We were lucky to get away with it,” Nanayakkara admits.
The match ventured into the final over where Hamilton needed three runs to win. A single and two dots still left two runs to win from the final three balls of the match. Inexplicably Palmerston North bowled a wide tying the scores. Nanayakkara captures the final moment.
“Palmerston North brought the field up and Declan hit it over cover for four. It was a great moment and a huge relief.”
Nanayakkara laughs, “Declan will get a promotion soon.”
Earlier in the tournament batting proved little hassle for Hamilton who defeated Napier Boys’ High School and Tauranga Boys’ College with relative ease and amassed over 350 against their own 2nd XI (Rotorua BHS withdrew from the tournament). Cullen Aislabie smashed 132 from 80 balls in this match and Nanayakkara chuckles “we showed them whose boss, though I only made five.”
Nanayakkara enjoys captaining Hamilton because there is a “lot of talent” in the team and it’s “less demanding” than other sides he has led in the past because of the skill level of the roster.
Nanayakkara was born in Rotorua, but his parents are of Sri Lankan extraction. He represented Northern Districts U17’s at the recent National tournament in Christchurch. His goals for the remainder of the year are to qualify for the National finals in December and push for a place in the New Zealand U19 team.
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