Jesse Ryder again proved his immense talent by bludgeoning 86 as Wellington Firebirds kept alive hopes of reaching the HRV Cup final with an upset 43-run win over Northern Knights at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
Ryder was brutal at the top of the Wellington innings, lashing 11 fours and four sixes in his 47-ball knock of 86 which set up the visitors imposing total of 202 for six from their 20 overs.
Ryder, bound to be included in the New Zealand team to play Pakistan after missing the recent one-day series loss in India with a calf injury, dominated a 108-run opening stand with Englishman Luke Wright (27), the pair bringing up the 100 inside eight overs as no bowler was spared.
Grant Elliott's 34 and some late hitting from Chris Nevin and Australian Brett Lee boosted the total over 200, a target Northern Districts were on track to achieve when Brad Wilson (49) and South African Herschelle Gibbs (50) put on 90 runs from 62 balls for the second wicket.
But when they fell in quick succession, the wheels fell off the hosts' challenge. They were all out for 159 with medium pacer Ronald Karaitiana claiming four for 27 from 3.5 overs and left-arm spinner Luke Woodcock typically economical in conceding one for 11 off three overs.
Northern Knights remain in second spot with 18 points, six behind leaders Auckland Aces, while Wellington, who dropped captain Jeetan Patel for tonight's match, have moved up to third on 14 points.