Unbeaten Stingers T20 champions

Winner's silverware . . . The Valley Stingers hold up the winner’s trophy after the team’s big win against the Kaitangata Kings during the South Otago T20 premier cricket finals last weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Valley Stingers are the South Otago T20 cricket champions.

The Stingers beat the Kai Kings by four wickets in a match that went down to the final over at Tuapeka Mouth on Saturday.

The Kai Kings elected to bat after winning the toss but were in trouble early.

Valley opening bowlers Ash Sharma and Alfie Omelvena-Flame bowled eight tight overs between them to leave Kai struggling at 29 for one.

William Casey and Mark Shepherd combined in the middle and began to raise the run rate for their side but some economical bowling and superb fielding through the middle stages meant the score did not increase as much as they would have liked.

Some late-innings hitting from Kobe Thomson allowed Kai to reach 136 for five, a total which has been defended more often than not this season. Casey top-scored with 52 and Shepherd was next highest on

26.

Jack Barraclough took two for 20 off his four overs but it was the opening spells from Sharma and Omelvena-Flame that set the tone for the innings.

In reply, Stingers opening batter Morgan Culbertson once again showing his ability to score runs quickly and effectively.

Culbertson and opening partner Alex Campbell put on 46 for the first wicket inside four overs, Campbell contributing just seven before he was dismissed. With two overs remaining, Valley needed 18 runs with young guns Luis Smales and Alfie Omelvena-Flame at the crease.

Kings skipper Mark Shepherd took it upon himself to bowl the final over and took the wicket of Omelvena-Flame second ball.

New batter Jack Barraclough was on strike and managed to hit a single to give Smales a chance with two balls remaining. Smales needed just the one, clobbering a six to win the match and bring up his first half-century in South Otago senior cricket. Culbertson’s 43 off 22 was the next highest and the best possible start his side could have asked for.

This is the first piece of competition-winning silverware the Stingers have earned since re-entering the competition. They finish the T20 unbeaten.

The Stingers travel to Clutha to play the Comets next week in a must-win match. Kai heads to Owaka next weekend for a key match-up in the 40-over competition in which it is in a good spot on the table.

Valley Stingers 139/6 (Luis Smales 50*, Morgan Culbertson 43; William Casey 3-20) beat Kai Kings 136/5 (William Casey 52, Mark Shepherd 26; Jack Barraclough 2-20)

The Owaka Bandits beat the Waihola Swans by two runs in the third-fourth playoff played as a curtain raiser to the T20 final.

Owaka chose to bat and recorded 137 for four. The star of the Owaka innings was opening batter Raiden Pennicott who clobbered 53 runs before sustaining a leg injury and was wheeled off the field.

Owaka was also served well by Joel White (21) and Quentin Gare (19). In an exhibition-style innings, Waihola used 10 bowlers who delivered two overs each. Greg Webber (1-7) and Levin Coulter-Butler (1-11) were the most successful.

In reply, with Owaka adopting the same bowling pattern, the Swans came within two runs of victory largely thanks to 40 from all-rounder Jared Hayes.

Toby Greene showed his enjoyment at facing Owaka with a brisk 36 runs.

Hayes and Emily Hickey ran a two to start before Hayes hit the next two balls for four and six to give his side a real chance. Unfortunately, he was bowled next ball leaving his side two runs short. Regardless of the result, it was a fantastic spectacle for all concerned.

Ten Bandits bowlers were used with Francis Parker (2-6) and Jamie Shaw (2-15) the pick of the bunch.

The Swans now have the bye. Owaka hosts the Kai Kings in what is an important game for the team.

Owaka Bandits 137/4 (Raiden Pennicott 53*, Joel White 21; Greg Webber 1-7; beat Waihola Swans 135 (Jared Hayes 40, Toby Greene 36; Francis Parker 2-6)

Down the line . . . Valley Stingers bowler Bevan McCall sends down a delivery to Kaitangata Kings batsman William Casey.
Send it flying . . . Kaitangata Kings batsman Allan Thomson sends the ball away. PHOTOS: EVELYN THORN