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Year 7 Pacers’ final so close

The Pacers’ final match went down to the wire.
Birkenhead Pacers vs Waitakere Panthers Grand Final
Saturday March 19 2016
Te Atatu Park
Having put in a fantastic run of late-season performances, the Birkenhead Pacers had reached the Grand Final. The match was against the Waitakere Panthers, a team unbeaten all season, and with home advantage at Te Atatu Park. However, the Pacers had plenty of supporters present to egg them on, easily out-numbering those of the home team.
Baz was our designated umpire for the match – no chance of a Mankad with him at the helm. The weather was bright and sunny, with quite a strong breeze, but all set up for a great final game. Our team of 12 was Seb, Joseph, Taine, Vivek, Joe, Brandon, Nathan (aka Kenny), Ben, William, Orlando and Jeremy, with Chayan as captain for the day.
The Pacers lost the toss, in true Birkenhead style, and were put in to bat. Since we had 12, Jeremy sportingly elected not to bat.
Seb and Chayan opened but the match didn’t get off to a good start for the Pacers. After a partnership lasting only 12 balls, Chayan was dismissed for 1 run with just 2 on the board.
Joseph came in but was soon caught and bowled for 5 and we were on 12. Taine came in at No. 4 but was bowled in the next over for a duck.
Vivek then came to the crease. His partnership with opener Seb lasted only 3 balls – run out for 6. This made for a sobering total of 21/4 in the 5th over. The Waitakere bowlers were a talented bunch but the Pacers soon stemmed the flow of wickets and started to add some runs thanks to a steadying and much-needed innings from Vivek, in partnership with Joe.
At drinks, the Pacers were 59/4. After the break, Vivek and Joe increased the score with some splendid boundaries from both players. Joe was then dismissed in the 18th over for 19. By this time, Vivek was on fire and had reached 44 – well on the way to retiring and his partnership with Joe had notched up 67 runs. The Pacers were now on 98 for 5.
Brandon  batted at 7. Unfortunately, he was run out in his first over for a duck, swiftly followed by his replacement, Nathan (Kenny), who was clean-bowled first ball. Ben then came in at No. 9 and defended his wicket admirably enduring some fierce bowling from Waitakere. Soon, Vivek had reached a fabulous 50 from 51 balls, which included 7 boundary 4’s. His innings had rescued his team from its poor start and he could retire in style having made his mark on the Grand Final.
William came in to replace the retired Vivek. Ben was caught soon after for 7. Orlando added 2 more runs to William’s 4. The 28 overs were up and the Pacers finished with a hard-fought total of 116 for 8 (inclusive of 22 extras).
The Pacers now came in to bowl knowing that they were defending a modest total. They also knew from their previous encounter with Waitakere that they had a few key batsmen who needed to be dismissed.
Joe and Vivek opened the bowling for the Pacers. Waitakere’s opener was looking dangerous hitting the only 6 of the match before falling to Vivek’s excellent delivery. This was a key wicket. Waitakere were on 17 for 1 after 4 overs.
The next 4 overs were shared between Taine and Brandon. Taine maintained excellent economy with 1 maiden and only 2 runs conceded. Overs 5 and 7 belonged to Brandon, dismissing one batsman for 2 runs and another for a duck. This was a magnificent display with the ball and earned Brandon a well-deserved Player-of-the-Day award.
The Pacers were doing to Waitakere what they had done to us. Waitakere were now on 18 for 3 after 8. Some excellent bowling continued with Shayan and Nathan. Nathan kept the scoresheet sparse conceding only 2 runs from his 2 overs. Shayan then took a wicket in the 11th over and Waitakere were now 35/4.
Jeremy and Joseph bowled an over each to take us to the drinks break and Waitakere’s total at the half-way point was 45/4. It was definitely ‘Game On’.
After drinks, the Panthers’ middle-order batsmen proved resilient – just as  Vivek and Joe had dug in during our innings. There were some tidy overs from Seb and Joseph, but some expensive ones too from the rest of the bowling order. Waitakere’s No. 5 and No. 6 were finding the boundary on a regular basis. The deadlock was finally broken in the 21st over by William who dismissed one of them for 30 but Waitakere were now on 95 for 5 chasing 117 to win with 7 overs to go.The match was looking like it would go the full distance to decide the winner.
The tension built in the 27th over when Joe dismissed the Panthers’ No. 7, for 7 runs making Waitak 114/6 after 27 overs.
This meant they needed 3 runs to win with one over left.
Brandon stepped up for the final over. His first delivery – just a single. The second – a dot ball. Waitakere – 2 runs to win, four balls to do it. Hearts in mouths everywhere. Then, with the third ball of the last over, Waitakere’s No. 5 did what he’d been doing so successfully throughout his time at the crease – he found the boundary with a sweet sweep.
Waitakere had won with a final score of 119/6 after 27.3 overs (inclusive of 19 extras).
What an amazing game – it could have gone either way. A closely fought contest worthy of the Grand Final and played with a ‘Spirit of Cricket’ that Martin Crowe would have approved of.
Congratulations to the Waitakere Panthers, but well played Birkenhead Pacers – you played your hearts out and made coach Andy Ballard and us all very proud.
Thanks to all the parents who have umpired, scored, coached, managed and supported the team through the season. It’s been a fantastic one! – Ray Simpkin
What an amazing game – it could have gone either way.

Read about the other junior matches on March 19.

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