Guy Coleman lofted the third to last delivery over the deep square leg fielder to dispel the NZ Croatian side's ambition to erase the memory of last season’s defeat to the Masters. Coleman’s final blow concluded what had been a tense run chase in hot and humid conditions at Devonport Domain on Sunday afternoon.
Facing a tricky total of 138 to win on a slow wicket, the Masters were rocked early with Sanj Silva’s dismissal in the first over. Mathew Sinclair strode purposefully to the wicket, showing no sign of the nerves that could emerge from debut performances throughout his illustrious career – dismissed first ball in domestic one-day, first class and ODI matches, before balancing the ledger with that historic 214 on Test debut. Sinclair’s CPA Masters debut was less dramatic,
but typically effective and was littered with trademark cover drives and square cuts in a partnership of 44 with Richard Jones before Sinclair was dismissed for 32 in the 11th over.
Medium pacer Jason Brajkovic produced a magic couple of overs to rip through the Masters line-up with three quick wickets, including Jones, Ian Billcliff and the prize wicket of Sinclair, to leave the Masters chase perilous at 65 for five in the 13th over.
Paul Hitchcock was playing a controlled innings and combined, first with Craig Pryor, then Coleman to slowly edge the game away from the Cro’s. Hitchcock's 43 from 30 deliveries was enough to give the Masters the upper hand, but with 9 required in the final over the game could still go either way, and the Cro’s sniffed their chance after Hitchcock was caught on the boundary by a spectacular running Josh Presland catch on the third ball of the final over and still needing 5 for victory.
No problem thought Coleman, who nonchalantly lifted the next ball into the brickwork some 20 metres past the square leg boundary, a blow that deflated the spirited performance by the Croatian’s, who could have easily won this match.
Coleman had earlier snared four wickets, once sitting on a hat trick following a spectacular one handed diving catch by Rob Hart, in a match performance that ensured his recognition as the Fujitsu Heat Pumps MVP.
Dusan Hakaraia (also a CPA member) got the match off to a rollicking start with a quick fire 30 off 19 deliveries and had the Croatian’s in front with 61 runs off 7 overs. This early advantage was whittled away as a number of the Croatian’s got starts, with 4 players reaching 30 but none in excess of 33.
So despite many ebbs and flows throughout the match, the Masters retain an unbeaten record against the Croatian’s, ensuring next summer’s encounter and bound to have a slight edge to it!