A captain’s knock from Raki Weerasundara has helped Johnsonville lift the Pearce Cup for the first time in their history over Taita District at Alex Moore Park over the weekend.
Both sides came in to the final with a chance to make history for their clubs and it was Taita who started strongly after they lost the toss and were put in to bat first.
Openers Toby Barton and Nick Greenwood built a solid platform for a big Taita innings, putting on a 107-run stand for the opening wicket before Barton was out caught for 28 off the bowling of Josh Mann.
The Johnsonville bowlers followed it up with two big wickets, firstly Deepak Joon for a four-ball duck, before Greenwood’s opening stand was brought-to-an-end – out caught for 88 by Dominic McAlister.
Mitchell Scott and Hamish Walsh put on 58 for the fourth wicket to steady the Taita innings. Walsh was out caught for 34 by McAlister, who finished with figures of 2-40 off his 12 overs, but Taita captain Nik Swain provided good support to Scott who would eventually be removed, one shy of a deserved half-century, by Dave Hudson.
Hudson had taken the big wicket of Joon earlier in the innings, and he picked up his fourth wicket one ball later, this time Chander Ravi for a duck, as the right-armer finished with figures of 4-65 from his 14 overs.
Little resistance was added by the Taita tail as Jeremy Benton removed Matt Kelly and Kieran McComb, the visitors all out for 276 before tea on day one.
Johnsonville lost opener Scott Mudgway and Wellington A youngster Gareth Severin in the final session of day one, but not before the in-form Devan Vishvaka and captain Raki Weerasundara could stamp their mark on proceedings.
When the pair came together the score was 69/2 and they ended the day unbeaten on 213/2 trailing by just 63. Vishvaka reached his century late on day one and ended the day unbeaten on 123 alongside Weerasundara who was 61 not out.
Matt Kelly eventually got Vishvaka for 131 early on day two with an excellent caught and bowled. The 20-year-old’s innings included 24 boundaries and came off just 132 deliveries.
Hareen Silva joined Weerasundara and continued to inflict pain on the Taita bowlers – his 48 coming from 54 deliveries before Kieran McComb removed him with another caught and bowled.
Weerasundara reached his century and continued building with a glittering display of shots around the Alex Moore Park ground as he edged closer to a double ton.
Benton (25) and Josh Mann (13) both added runs and by the 98th over the Johnsonville lead was 192 and Weerasundara was unbeaten on 199.
The Johnsonville skipper was off-strike though, and before he could face another delivery Matt Kelly got McAlister with the first ball of the 98th and Hudson with the final ball of the over to finish with figures of 6-134 and leave Weerasundara stranded, one shy of what would have been a well-deserved double-century.
Johnsonville had a comfortable lead though and they mounted even more pressure on the visitors in the final session on day two.
Hamish Walsh had been promoted to open in the second innings, but the right-hander and fellow opener Nick Greenwood were both out in the opening eight balls.
Joon and Barton both fell soon after inside the fifth over – Taita reeling at 46/4 and in danger of losing the final late on day two.
Mitchell Scott followed up his first innings batting performance and offered some resistance to the fired-up Johnsonville attack. His 76 off 63 deliveries was enough to take the game into a third day, but when the right-hander fell late in the day and skipper Swain was bowled by Zac Ringrose the result looked an inevitability on day three.
In the end the third day of play only lasted ten overs as the Johnsonville bowling attack wrapped up the Taita tail with ease.
Liam Sullivan and Chander Ravi resumed for the visitors but Ringrose (4-58) and McAlister (5-52) made short work of the tail, bowling Taita out for 153 and taking the victory by an innings and 39 runs.
Johnsonville 468 (Weerasundara 199*, Vishvaka 131, Silva 48, Kelly 6-134) beat Taita District 276 (Greenwood 88, Scott 49, Hudson 4-65) & 153 (Scott 76, McAlister 5-52, Ringrose 4-58) by an innings and 39 runs
Article added: Monday 29 March 2021
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