Auckland Under-17 have upended top qualifiers Central Districts U17 by five wickets to claim the 2018/19 national title in a hard-fought 1v2 final at Lincoln’s Bert Sutcliffe Oval. It’s the third consecutive year that Auckland has claimed the title, albeit with a largely new team at this year’s nationals.
The title also completes an age-group hat-trick at NZC’s official tournaments, Auckland also having claimed the men’s Under-19 and women’s Under-21 trophies this season.
Sent in for the first time all tournament, Central Districts U17 did well to reach 224 for eight in their 50 overs against a disciplined attack, with some explosive late hitting from Jordie Gard (40* off 25 balls, 1 x 4, 4 x 6) helping get their tally up over the 200-mark at the death.
Earlier, vice-captain Will Clark had held their innings together with a vital 99 at first drop, after Auckland U17’s opening pace attack had made a tight start with the ball and removed the tournament’s leading runscorer and dangerman Sam Ferguson (418 runs from 6 innings) for no score.
Clark would be denied his century by leg-spinner and top wicket-taker at this year’s tournament, Adithya Ashok, fresh off his sensational haul of 6-12 the previous day.
Ashok (17 wickets for the tournament) would settle for 2-39 off his 10 overs in the final, having already claimed CD captain Sam Sherriff in a top battle between bat and ball.
Chasing CD’s 225, Auckland U17 first drop Dimithri Gallage took his side a long way towards their target, but would also suffer a bittersweet demise in the 90s when he was caught in the 39th over on 95, at just under run-a-ball pace.
Earlier, opening batsman BJ Jacobs had set up the winning chase with an innings of 72 off 86 deliveries before he was caught and bowled by Finn Restieaux in the 27th, 132/2 providing the platform for his teammates in a well controlled chase, completed with 6.4 overs to spare.
Northern Districts edged Wellington U17 for third spot in the tightest battle of finals day. On Lincoln No.3, Wellington sent ND in and restricted them to 217 in 48.3 overs, fighting back with the ball after both ND openers had got off to a good start at 60 for no loss.
ND opening batsman Tim Pringle would continue his fine tournament and eclipse them, however, with a pivotal unbeaten knock of 96 in reply, carrying his bat in a three-wicket win as ND chased down their target in the last over.
In the 5v6 playoff, Otago U17 restricted Canterbury U17 to 200, then chased down the runs in just 35.5 overs for a comfortable eight-wicket victory, with each of their top three batsman reaching half centuries.