An early ambush followed by a middle-order masterclass from Wayne Sellers lifted Bathurst to a campaign-opening, three-wicket victory in the first round of the Western Zone Premier League at Wade Park on Saturday.
Needing 204 to win with rain threatening to force the clash into a Duckworth-Lewis-Stern calculation, Jaden Ekert and Imran Qureshi went ballistic in the opening stages of the chase, taking 56 from the first seven overs before the latter was removed for 18.
Ekert (44) was dismissed not long after and while that sparked a mini-collapse to the tune of 5-49, but after coming to the crease with 94 still required Sellers imposed himself to ensure his ultimately cruised to victory.
In his 19-over stint in the middle of Wade Park Sellers blasted 55 and after coming together at 6-124 with the clash in the balance, he and Bailey Brien (20 not out) added 73 crucial runs for the seventh wicket.
Sellers was dismissed with just seven left to get, which Brien and Dave Henderson (1 not out) knocked off in the 41st over.
"There was certainly nerves at six down but Wayne did what Wayne does, it's tough to watch sometimes but he got the job done," Bathurst skipper Jameel Qureshi, standing in for regular captain Adam Ryan, said.
"Jaden Ekert at the top did a great job too. It was a tough game, Orange played well and it looks like they've got some good young guys coming up and we had our moments,
"It was scrappy and there was a lot of blokes blowing out cobwebs, but you can't ask for much more than a win in the first game of the season."
Considering the visitors had almost 10 overs to spare in their successful chase it would appear Orange didn't set a big enough target after being in, Bluebaggers skipper Ed Morrish suggested otherwise though.
On a difficult wicket with rain around, he actually thought his side's 204 would be "more than enough".
"Obviously it didn't end up being enough and we'd have liked, but the wicket was tacky and was doing a bit, but it came down to the way we bowled I think, particularly in those first six or seven overs," Morrish said.
Morrish (2-50) and Fletcher Rose (0-41) were taken for eight an over during that period, and despite rallying Orange's new skipper said his side was simply chasing their tails too much from there.
It came down to the way we bowled I think, particularly in those first six or seven overs.Orange skipper Ed Morrish
"We knew with rain around they'd try and get a move on, although that's just the way Ekert bats anyway, but we didn't do enough to keep them in check," he said.
"We did a great job to peg them back to 6-120 or so, and we had a sniff but I think in hindsight I made a bit of an error in the middle overs and left our spinners on for three or four too many.
"That let Wayne settle and as we saw he can take the game anyway from you quickly when he's settled, that's something I'll need to learn from.
"It's disappointing to lose obviously but from a team perspective there was a lot of positives and it's a good foundation to build from I think."
Although it proved a competitive total, there was a point when a 200-plus total looked well out of Orange's reach after the top five faltered, with Blake Weymouth (25) the only one to make any real inroads.
But a superb dig under pressure from Hugh Le Lievre, complemented by Morrish, lifted the Bluebaggers to a defensible total.
The pair came together with the Bluebaggers in real trouble at 5-73 and added a fighting 95 for the sixth wicket, Le Lievre knocking up 67 of those before becoming Connor Slattery's (1-39) only victim of the day.
Morrish went on to notch a half-ton of his own, making 51 and helping push his side past 200.
"Hughy batted beautifully, he's a competitor, he's just a very tough cricketer and he's the main reason we gave ourselves a chance," Morrish said.
The two sides have a two-week break before the next Western Zone Premier League round, in which they're both on the road against 2018-19's finalists.
Bathurst will travel to No.1 Oval to face reigning champions Dubbo while Orange will land at Woodward Oval to take on last year's beaten grand finalists Parkes, on October 27.
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