Cricket: English import not to blame for loss, coach says

Otago coach Mike Hesson refused to blame a ponderous innings from star English import Dimitri Mascarenhas for his side's 49-run loss to Northern Districts in the State Shield final in Hamilton on Saturday.

Mascarenhas played a curious innings, limping to 17 runs off 70 deliveries.

His knock was in stark contrast to some of his swashbuckling efforts earlier in the season and left commentators struggling to understand the strategy behind it.

To be fair, Mascarenhas came to the wicket with Otago treading water at 78 for five, after the bulk of its largely inexperienced top order had crumbled meekly.

With nearly 30 overs remaining he was always going to take time to get settled, and to complicate matters Northern spinners Bruce Martin and Kane Williamson were bowling exceedingly well.

The pair operated in tandem for 20 overs, conceding just 46 runs between them.

But while Mascarenhas played a dead bat, the run-rate soared and with it the pressure.

"We got squeezed in the middle and struggled to score runs and left ourselves a big task in the end," Hesson said.

"They [Mascarenhas and Nathan McCullum] felt their best opportunity was to see them [spinners] out and attack the seamers but it didn't happen.

"No doubt we missed the experience at the top and we got ourself into a difficult situation.

"We felt we were in with a chance at half-time but we just didn't bat well enough."

There were other culprits.

Opener Shaun Haig played as poor a cricket shot as you are likely to see, not once but twice.

Northern seamer Graeme Aldridge was good enough to hit the wickets the second time that Haig, feet anchored, threw his bat at the ball.

Aaron Redmond, Otago's most-experienced batsman, had looked in good touch and was set at the crease when he made a poor decision and hit out to mid-off.

Had he carried on, and had others played around him, Otago would still have been well placed to push for the win.

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