Kai Kings keep firm grip on cup

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Straight drive. . . Clutha Comets batter Caleb Carson plays a firm shot against Waihola in Balclutha on Saturday.
PHOTOS: EVELYN THORN

CRICKET CORRESPONDENT

The Kai Kings retained the South Otago Challenge Cup and ensured their position in the top four with a classy 46›run win over the Owaka Bandits in Kaitangata on Saturday.

Kai was asked to bat and made 247 for six from its 40 overs.

A strong opening partnership between Allan and Luc Thomson set an above›average platform for the home side.

The pair negotiated 14 overs before Allan Thomson was dismissed for 35 off the bowling of Hayden Sheppard.

Sheppard also dismissed danger›men William Casey and Brad Storer early in their innings as Kai’s surge of runs began to slow.

Kings captain Mark Shepherd soon put a stop to that as he belted 72 runs from just 47 balls to put his side firmly back in the ascendancy.

Shepherd played some sublime strokes with two lofted cover drives the pick of the bunch.

He and Luc Thomson, whose 54 was his first half›century for the Kings, were dismissed within balls of each other after putting on a fantastic 87›run partnership.

Pat McKenna (22 not out) put together a tidy cameo at the end t of the innings.

Sheppard was the pick of the Owaka bowlers with three for 53 off eight overs.

In reply, the Bandits were dismissed in the 38th over for 201, largely thanks to 92 from opener Jeremy Gray.

Gray and opening partner Stu Kelly added 35 for the first wicket before the middle order collapsed, leaving Owaka fumbling at 69 for four.

Gray found a keen batting partner in Matt Morahan and the two added 37 before Gray was out trying to hit a second consecutive

six.

Morahan continued to bat well but was dismissed for 40 with Owaka needing plenty of help.

The tail batted admirably but could not close the gap quickly enough and Kai took a well›earned win. Ethan Gilder (two for 36) was the pick of a balanced Kai attack.

Í The Clutha Comets beat the Waihola Swans by 22 runs in an exciting match in Balclutha. Clutha made 199 for seven off 40 overs largely thanks to yet another century by Caleb Carson. Carson opened the batting and hit a run›a›ball 113 before being dismissed in the penultimate over of the innings. His superb knock included seven fours and six sixes, his third century of the season. Craig Gordon’s two for 32 highlighted a Swans bowling attack that managed to keep Clutha’s total at par. The Swans batted out their 40 overs but fell agonisingly short at the end. They were in trouble early at 14 for three with Comets opening bowler Kelan Smith taking two wickets.

The introduction of Nick Parata to the bowling crease extended Waihola’s issues as acouple more wickets had the Swans in deep trouble at 43 for five.

Swans leaders Jared Cunningham and Dylan Bungard combined in a fantastic partnership which gave their side a real chance through the middle of the innings.

They added 113 for the sixth wicket before Bungard was bowled by Parata for 39. Cunningham fell in Parata’s next over for 63.

A cameo from Greg Webber (15 not out) towards the end pushed the Swans close, but they could not quite close the gap, finishing their innings on 177 for eight.

Parata showed his class with the ball, returning figures of four for 31 off eight overs.