A 93-run opening partnership by Central batsman Ben Fraser and Johnny Downs has helped secure their side the Grantleys Liquor Merchants Challenge Cup.
Central took on top of the table Geyser City at Ray Boord Park at the weekend with their top-order batsman totally outclassing Geyser.
On a pitch which tended to stay low, Fraser looked to keep his eye on the ball and push it around the hard and dry outfield. The effort paid off as he went on to top score with 92. He was joined by teammates Shannon Smith, 52, Downs, 49, and Dave Hunt, 31, to help post 279/8 in their allotted 40 overs. Geyser could only muster 119/8 in response.
The win not only secured Central the Grantleys Liquor Merchants Challenge Cup, a trophy put on the line every time the holder of the cup plays, but it also puts them within striking distance of a top two finish.
At one point, Central looked invincible with the two openers at the crease and it took some good bowling from Matt Collier to break the partnership. In the 13th over with Central 93 without loss, Collier stepped up to bowl his first spell. He clean bowled Downs and had Shayde Perham lbw the very next ball. Collier missed his hat-trick but had his third wicket two balls later when he sent back Richard Downs for a duck after Downs slashed the ball to point and into the safe hands of Greg Campbell. Collier was the best of the Geyser bowlers, finishing with figures of 4/49 for his eight overs.
But it was the skills of Fraser with the bat, who put on three high-class partnerships of 93, 71 and 68 which made the difference.
It was in stark contrast to Geyser's showing with the bat. Lead by Karl McKnight, who top scored with 34, Geyser toiled on the flat pitch thanks to a combination from Central of a well placed field and good line and length bowling by Richard Downs 2/11 and Shayde Perham 2/30. McKnight's side never really got going and the run chase eventually petered out with the Geyser only making 119/8 in their 40 overs. The only other batsmen of note for Geyser were Matt Collier, 23 not out, and Leon McKnight, 22.
The Rotorua Senior Reserve 40-over series is now wide open with both Geyser and Taupo Wanderers sitting at the top of the table with 18 points followed by Central on 12.
Taupo moved up to first equal after Bay of Plenty Indians defaulted for a second time this season. The second no-show in one season, means the Indians have been deducted six points and sit at the bottom of the table with minus six.