The Wellington Firebirds 154-6 (James Franklin
43, Rob Nicol 2-25) lost to the Canterbury Wizards 155-2 after 14.3 overs (Dean
Brownlie 86*, George Worker 53) by eight wickets
Hagley Oval witnessed two demolition jobs this week: the removal of the Old Boys' Stand, followed by the bulldozing of the Hell Wellington Firebirds in a comprehensive, eight-wicket win by hosts the Canterbury Wizards.
Chasing a lowish total of 155, Dean Brownlie drove the digger with a career-best knock of 86 from 36 balls as he combined in a match-winning 119-run partnership creamed from 60 balls with George Worker.
Worker, who belted a six back over Jeetan Patel's head to post both his unbeaten half century and the winning runs with five overs to spare, provided textbook support, but was outshone on the day by Brownlie at his belligerent best. Driving powerfully off the back foot, Brownlie made the Firebirds pay dearly for dropping him on 19, when pro Graham Napier put down one of two missed caught and bowled chances in the innings.
Brownlie's assault helped hit swing bowler Dane Hutchinson out of the attack with 20 runs peeled from the fifth over, but he saved his severest brutality for the spinners - single-handedly taking 18 runs from Luke Woodcock's third over, then raising his quickfire 50 with back-to-back sixes off Patel.
After watching Brownlie help himself to five sixes and 11 boundaries, Hutchinson returned in the 12th over to catch the edge of his bat, Brownlie playing on. But it was all too late, a mere 25 runs needed by the Wizards from the last eight overs.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, it was a sore rub for the Firebirds whose batsmen had not been able to dominate the Wizards' spin attack through the middle in anywhere near similar fashion. Leading overall run-scorer Michael Pollard (33 off 28) and fellow opener Michael Papps (14 off 12) had looked likely before both falling to Rob Nicol in the seventh over - setting the tone for a day on which the Wellington line-up got starts without going on. James Franklin (43 off 26) top-scored, but fell to an innocuous waist-high full toss from Logan van Beek with two overs to go.
Three of Franklin's crisply driven sixes had come off the spinners, but even so, Rob Nicol (2-25) and Ronnie Hira (1-23) turned in economical spells, having had the courage to flight the ball in brilliant conditions.