The Wellington Firebirds have posted a convincing 55 run victory over the Central Stags in their HRV Cup match at McLean Park, Napier.
An explosive start from Jesse Ryder led the Firebirds to an imposing 214 for five from their 20 overs. They then restricted the Stags to 159 for nine in reply, with Doug Bracewell unable to bat having earlier sustained an injury.
The Stags’ pursuit looked a chance at 26 for one after 2.1 overs, but the fall of regular wickets crippled their chase and quickly gave the visitors the advantage.
The top-scorer was 20 year-old William Young with 34 from 27, while a number of other batsmen also made starts.
Adam Milne showed some resistance at the end of the innings with an unbeaten 18, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Stags’ chase was ended after 19 overs.
Michael Pollard hit the stumps from the boundary to run out Carl Cachopa in what was one of the highlights of an impressive fielding display from the Firebirds. Chris Woakes was the best of the bowlers and finished with figures of three for 27 from four overs.
Earlier the home side had put the Firebirds in to bat first in the hope of getting rid of Ryder early. It didn’t work out though, as the 28 year-old got his side off to the perfect start.
Ryder made his intentions clear from the outset, hitting 11 runs off the first three balls. It was just the start of his onslaught, as alongside Michael Pollard he put on a tremendous 105 off 7.4 overs for the opening wicket.
A couple of dropped chances hurt the Stags, with Ryder slamming sixes to all ends of the ground with some exquisite power hitting.
Three cricket balls were lost in the opening seven overs, as Ryder brought up his half centuries off 16 deliveries. He carried on his dominance to put on 75 from 26 balls in an innings which featured nine fours and six sixes.
He was eventually dismissed by debutant Andrew Mathieson – who had previously had him dropped off his bowling – when the 23 year-old caught an under-edge off his bat to have him bowled.
His wicket brought about a small collapse for the Firebirds, as co-opener Michael Pollard (28), Michael Papps (0) and Luke Ronchi(15) went in quick succession to reduce the Firebirds to 124 for four.
The following partnership would be a valuable one though, as James Franklin and Grant Elliot put on 83 for the fifth wicket.
Elliot was the aggressor with 50 from 27, while Franklin anchored the rest of the innings with a well-paced 42 from 37. The pair’s effort ensured the Firebirds would surpass 200, setting the Stags a substantial target.
The wickets were shared amongst the bowlers, while Pollard fell to a direct hit from Jamie How in the field.
The win puts the Firebirds into second on the HRV Cup points table, four adrift of leaders the Northern Knights.