This weekend sees the first Saturday / Sunday double-headers as the Honda Financial Premiership sees a full round in the Two-Day championships and the Prichard Cup.
Hedley Howarth leaders Takapuna travel to Papatoetoe on the back of a pair of outright victories. Mike Sclanders is in fine form for the visitors, having hit two fifties and a fine century in his past three knocks. Papatoetoe come into Round Three with confidence after taking first-innings points off Howick Pakuranga, before succumbing to the reigning champions in the final over of the day.
Parnell return home after first-innings wins over Cornwall and Suburbs New Lynn, while North Shore hit the road for their first away game in the Hedley Howarth this season. Fanie de Villiers continues to lead Parnell’s attack, while North Shore’s Graeme Beghin has already hit two centuries on the young season. Both sides have batted first and batted big in their opening two matches; how important will the toss be at Shore Road?
Howick Pakuranga and Cornwall square off at Lloyd Elsmore. Cornwall’s top order clicked last week in an impressive chase at North Shore. The hosts will want to build on last week’s outright win, having given up first-innings points. If both sides are as resilient as they were last week, this could be a tantalising affair.
Auckland University will look to bounce back after last week’s tough outing against Takapuna. The challenge doesn’t get any easier as Suburbs New Lynn bring a strong top order to town. Finn Allen returns to Colin Maiden for the first time on the back of his magnificent 165. Can University put together a win before the Hedley Howarth competition goes for an early holiday?
At Windsor Park, East Coast Bays host Waitakere. Bays’ two first-innings wins give them an early five-point lead after two rounds. It’s been an aggressive start by East Coast Bays with both bat and ball. Phil Mecredy leads all Tom Hellaby wicket-takers with 16 from two games. Waitakere, on the other hand, will want more from their bowling group after Jared Challis has led the batting front with back-to-back centuries.
Eden Roskill take on a visiting Birkenhead side, who battled past Waitakere in Round Two. Second-placed Eden Roskill shook off their loss in Round One, by dismantling Ellerslie. While Harjot Johal has been everpresent with the ball, Eden Roskill are yet to fully click with the bat. Former skipper Akash Christian has led the way for Birkenhead with two hundreds in recent weeks as the side have shown renewed grit and determination.
Michael’s Ave hosts an important clash for two sides equally as desperate for a win. Grafton will want to keep in touch with the leading sides, while Ellerslie have considerable work to do if they are to get their campaign back on track. This match sees Premier Cricket’s leading runscorers – Nathan Fletcher (482) and Hassan Azad (373) – square off on what can be a tricky surface at Ellerslie.
Parnell get another opportunity to get off the mark when they host Howick Pakuranga at Thomas Bloodworth Park. Having lost to Auckland University last week, the match takes on greater significance in the hunt for the top-three.
Takapuna make the trip across the bridge to take on Auckland University at Colin Maiden Park. Both sides will be without considerable domestic talent. Can University be the first side to defeat the defending champions?
Meanwhile, Cornwall play Papatoetoe at Cornwall Park. The hosts come off a comprehensive defeat and will also be without several HEARTS players. Papatoetoe registered their first win last week; can they back it up and put a dent in Cornwall’s playoff hopes?