The Kaitangata Kings are the South Otago Cricket 40›over champions for the third year running.
The Kings have beaten the Valley Stingers by 14 runs in a match that had more twists and turns than a salted pretzel.
Valley won the toss and asked the Kings to bat first.
A dedicated first 10 overs from the home side set the tone in the field.
The Valley fielders gave nothing away and their bowlers bowled extremely tight lines.
The commitment in the field took its toll early with Stingers dangerman Morgan Culbertson popping a hammy while racing around the boundary to stop a four. Culbertson had to depart the field for the duration of the fielding innings.
Kai managed to score 252 for the loss off six from their forty overs.
The early onslaught from the Stingers kept Kai at bay, but a fantastic third›wicket partnership of 93 by William Casey and Mark Shepherd ensured Kai would enter the final stage of the innings with a solid platform.
Casey was happy to feed Shepherd the strike as he was hitting a very clean ball indeed.
Shepherd showed his power game but also showed his graceful side with the odd dab for four on an extremely fast Wasp Nest outfield.
Casey was dismissed for 35 before Shepherd followed for a well›struck 80 runs off just the 52 balls. Shepherd’s innings included eight fours and six sixes.
Allan Thomson (19), Jason Young (20 not out) and Pat McKenna (10 not out) all contributed towards the end of the innings to give Kai a total worthy of defending.
Kai opener Blair Benington continued his form at the top of the innings with 48, second› highest to Shepherd’s knock.
Ash Sharma bowled a tight eight overs at the start for Valley before Marc Phillips bowled well in two spells and returned figures of three for 52 off eight overs. Sharma, Bevan McCall and Luis Smales took a wicket each for the home side.
In reply, the second innings provided plenty of excitement with both sides earning the favourite’s tag at different stages. Kai flew out of the gates early doors and reduced Valley to 21 for the loss of four wickets.
This start would have given most teams little hope of a comeback, but Valley was confident.
The experienced duo of Bevan McCall and captain Lachie Johnston began the recovery mission for their side.
The two shared a 90›run partnership for the fifth wicket before McCall was dismissed by William Casey for 45.
Johnston was surprised to see the wounded figure of Culbertson heading to the wicket at No 7, barely able to walk.
The two veterans sussed out a plan and proceeded to attack the Kings bowlers while not managing to run an awful lot between the wickets.
Culbertson produced a lion› hearted innings and was in obvious pain as he swatted the Kings bowlers around the park through the middle of the innings.
The pair had turned the match in their favour with a 72›run partnership before Johnston was dismissed for 55.
Culbertson continued his barrage of boundaries and was finally dismissed for a courageous 58 off 42 balls. Experienced Valley player Marc Phillips has had plenty of time batting with the tail and with Valley only needing 49 runs from 12 overs the game was still in their favour. Kai had the luxury of calling on key bowlers Jason Young and Mark Shepherd to bowl at the death.
Young would start the fight back with a peach of a delivery that bowled Phillips for 15. Lower›order batter Chris Moffitt took control of the innings after Phillips’ demise with just the 24 runs needed.
Moffitt hit some useful boundaries before being dismissed by Shepherd in the 38th over.
Shepherd would finish the job on the final ball of the over to give his side the win, which three overs before that looked very unlikely.
Kai turned itself around after dropping some key catches late in the piece to take a well› deserved win.
Valley stayed committed until the end but just fell a touch too short.
Culbertson was rewarded with Valley’s top score after his brave innings.
Johnston was next best. Kobe Thomson picked up three early wickets and returned figures of three for 49 off eight overs.
Kai Kings 252 for six (Mark Shepherd 80, Blair Benington 48; Marc Phillips three for 52) beat Valley Stingers 238 (Morgan Culbertson 58, Lachie Johnston 55; Kobe Thomson three for 49).