Waikoikoi batsmen hold nerve to take finals victory

The triumphant Waikoikoi cricket team celebrates its win against Invercargill Old Boys in the final of the ILT Cricket Southland premier league at Queens Park, Invercargill, on Saturday. Photo: Nola Howden
Waikoikoi batsman Nathan Howden plays a drive in his 18-run innings during the final. Photo: Sandy Eggleston

WAIKOIKOI is the ILT Southland Cricket Premier League Champion for the 2020/2021 season after beating Invercargill Old Boys in a thrilling grand final on Saturday.

Morning rain delayed the start at Queens Park, in Invercargill, by two hours and reduced the match to a 34-over contest.

Old Boys had first turn at bat and their openers Brayden Thomas and Satwinder Singh got the team to 48 before Singh (15) was out in the eighth over.

Thomas (41) was bowled by Kurt Thompson in the 15th over and then Waikoikoi’s second change bowler Ben McCall took five cheap wickets.

Neither of the Old Boys representative batsmen, Brendan Domigan or Amarpreet Singh, reached double figures and by the 26th over Old Boys was in trouble at 98-8.

Cody McKenzie then rescued the innings with 68 runs; McKenzie was run out on the last ball of the 34th over.

Old Boys’ total of 155-9 proved to be a tricky target for Waikoikoi. Opener Todd Thayer (22) was the main early contributor helping Koi to 45-4 in the 10th over.

Southland representatives Jared McKenzie and Hamish Cooke never reached double figures.

Liam McFaul (28) and Nathan Howden (18) then steadied the ship with a 54-run partnership.

Nic Reed (21) and Jason Chittock (10) then made important contributions.

Reed was the ninth man out when Waikoikoi still required nine runs off the remaining 11 balls.

The last two men at the crease, Jack Hilton (3*) and Warrick McKenzie (7*), held their nerve to take victory with two balls to spare.

Waikoikoi is a worthy champion after being the dominant team all summer.