Anton Devcich played the role of matchwinner with aplomb as the Northern Knights beat the Canterbury Wizards by four wickets in a Ford Trophy one-day match at Rangiora today.
Four days after scoring his maiden one-day century Devcich again played his part with an unbeaten 79 which carried his team past the Wizards’ 234 for nine with 33 balls to spare at MainPower Oval.
Despite the result the Wizards’ place in the playoffs was always assured although they now go through as the fourth-placed qualifiers to play the Otago Volts in the minor preliminary final on Sunday.
Twenty-six-year-old left-hander Devcich displayed growing composure to hit 11 boundaries off 94 balls and more than held his own during a pivotal stand of 118 for the fourth wicket with Hamish Marshall.
These two set the Knights on the path towards victory after the visitors were vulnerable at 39 for three.
With the experienced Marshall pulling the strings the Knights reasserted themselves and by the time Marshall departed, playing across the line after making a quality 83 off 90 balls, they were ahead of the required run rate.
Devcich found a valuable ally in Daryl Mitchell, who made 27 off 30, and these two took their team to the brink of victory before Mitchell was trapped leg before wicket by spinner George Worker.
The Wizards’ total was built around half-centuries to Todd Astle and Shanan Stewart plus 32 from Henry Nicholls.
They were not looking too bright at 42 for three but Stewart responded with a measured 64, containing four fours from 89 balls, and later a much brisker 78 not out from Astle proved invaluable.
Astle’s maiden one-day half-century featured nine fours and one six and occupied only 61 balls when the overs ran out.
Seamer Jono Boult was the pick of the attack for the Knights, his figures of three for 28 coming off 10 overs, the same number bowled by experienced seamer Graeme Aldridge, who ended with three for 53.