The side had their first double header against Auckland’s Rangitoto College on Wednesday (CI time).
Team coach Shane Phillips says Rangitoto have been promoted to the Premier 1st XI competition in Auckland and were expected to give the local boys a tough challenge.
Rangitoto batted first and amassed 142 runs in their first innings with Sam Paua’s leg spin snaring four wickets and slowing down their run rate.
In reply, the national side had a cautious start against the opening bowlers whose bowling speeds were well above anything seen in Rarotonga, Phillips said.
Regular wickets hampered the run chase but a few late hitting cameos saw the Cook Islands fall just short on 129.
Phillips said in the second match, they had the chance to bat first and after some solid early partnerships and a great cameo of boundaries from team youngster Potai Pana, the team managed to post a score of 144.
In reply, Rangitoto were reeling at 100/8, needing well over a run a ball in the final few overs.
“The boys played their hearts out but sadly the tail enders saw them home. The coaches were so pleased with the effort and determination they showed against a very good team,” Phillips said.
“Regardless of the results they showed that they were digging deep and giving it their all, exactly what has been asked of them.” Later the U19 side came close to pulling off a major upset at the Kaipaki Oval against the Northern Districts Maori selection team.
Sent into bat, the Northern District openers soon had the ball flying past the outside edges of the Cook Islands batsmen.
Aiming to not be dismissed, the local boys finished in 84/8 after 20 overs.
“This was our third consecutive game of batting out 20 overs, to the coach’s delight,” Phillips said.
“The team knew this was a small total but were very happy to have not been dismissed.”
In reply, the Northern District openers made small work of this total, winning by 10 wickets inside six overs. Phillips said the lunch break seemed to have kicked the national players into another gear as their bowling and fielding went to another level again in the second match.
“Sharp catches and fielding had the Northern District side losing regular wickets. The boys would sing and dance to their Pukapukan chants at every wicket to the delight of the spectators,” he said.
“Cell phones recorded while laughter filled the air.”
The home side slumped to 60/8 before a rear guard action and power hitting saw them reach 184/9, Phillips said.
“An unfortunate Cook Islands bowler had his last over go for an incredible 34 runs.”
Cook Islands took that confidence into their batting and got off to a great start, peppering the boundaries and running hard between the wickets.
The Northern District side used all their experience to tighten up the gaps, forcing the national side to finish 40 runs short of the total.
“There was nothing but praise given to the boys after the game who truly lifted and gained in confidence after these games.
“Coaching staff are so pleased the boys continue to bat their overs and grow the way they play and approach the game.
“The Northern District Maori team have confirmed they will come to Rarotonga and Aitutaki in September this year to help in the development of our game and players.”