The first HRV Twenty20 of 2014 delivered a happy new year to the Hell Wellington Firebirds as they kept the Devon Hotel Central Stags on their HRV Twenty20 duck at New Plymouth's Pukekura Park this evening.
A heavy downpour had earlier made a game seem unlikely, however, with a latest possible start time of 6.40pm and snappy work from ground staff a six-over game was underway in the nick of time - resulting in an entertaining display of urgent big hitting.
The Firebirds' Michael Pollard boomed one of the biggest sixes ever seen at the ground - over the very top off the eastern terrace - off Bevan Small after the Stags had sent the visitors in.
The Firebirds were already one down after the first-over loss of James Franklin as risk overran reward. Eight sixes and four boundaries were boomed in the innings, and the hands of Marty Kain (2-6) were left stinging from a reflex caught-and-bowled when he stopped Pollard on 13.
It fell to Graham Napier (28* off 11) and Grant Elliott (32* off 10) to throw together the key 61-run partnership that saw the Firebirds post a competitive 88-3 in their six overs, setting the Stags a pressure target of 14.83 runs per over.
They then made the perfect start with the luckless Jamie How pulling a thick top edge off Brent Arnel first ball. Arnel (2-5) grabbed his second wicket at the end of the over when he also had Josh Cobb caught for a duck.
Two dropped chances off Napier in the second over barely troubled the Firebirds as they went on to restrict the winless Stags to 59-4 for a comfortable 29-run victory.
The Stags will now hunt that elusive first win against the top-of-the-table Otago Volts at the same ground on 5 January. The Firebirds head to Mount Maunganui to try to stop the barnstorming SKYCITY Northern Knights on 4 January.
Otago Volts 16
Northern Knights 16
Wellington Firebirds 16
Auckland Aces 12
Canterbury Wizards 6
Central Stags 2