The sun shone and the Northern Knights smiled as their faltering HRV Cup Twenty20 campaign sparked into life today.
They thoroughly dominated the Central Stags at Mt Maunganui, winning by eight wickets with 25 balls to spare to end a run of four successive defeats.
The result lifted them off the foot of the standings midway through the sixth round and came after a compelling effort with both bat and ball.
International seamer Tim Southee had the ball on a string when the Stags batted first, taking three for 16 off his four overs as the visitors struggled through to 126 for eight.
Showing good rhythm and shape, Southee swung the ball late, a weapon he used to bowl Mathew Sinclair for 27 and two balls later left-hander Jacob Oram for one before having Tarun Nethula edging to wicketkeeper Peter McGlashan.
Opener Jamie How had earlier chipped in with 26 but it was left to allrounder Doug Bracewell to hit 35 not out off 26 balls late in the innings to give the Stags any chance.
Also impressing with the ball for the Knights were offspinner Kane Williamson, who completed his four overs for just 14 runs while left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori took two for 24 off four as well as running out How with a direct hit.
Despite losing Vettori early the Knights made light work of the chase, reaching their target in 15.5 overs with three handy contributions.
Hamish Marshall topscored with 48 off 36, featuring five fours and one six, opener Brad Wilson made 43 off 41 and captain Scott Styris threw the bat hard to smack 33 off 14, with two sixes, as they got home with ease.
Wilson’s dismissal, caught on the boundary by Michael Mason off legspinner Nethula, will feature long in the replay reels because of the role played by substitute fielder Bevan Small.
Wilson looked to have cleared the boundary but at the last moment Small leapt as high as physically possible and slapped the ball down into the hands of an incredulous Mason.
It was the Stags’ one piece of good fortune in a game when nothing really went right for them.