Northern Knights 200 (Daryl Mitchell 88, Daniel Harris 61, Dan Vettori 32) beat Devon Hotels Central Stags 169-7 (Carl Cachopa 69, Kruger van Wyk 59, Dan Vettori 3-33) by 31 runs.
Unable to make the starting XI last night, what a difference a day made for Daryl Mitchell. Replacing an injured Scott Styris, the young SKYCITY Northern Knights batsman saved his side's bacon after the Knights' top order had its first off-night in this season's HRV Twenty20.
For the visiting Devon Hotel Central Stags it was their first white-ball outing of the season, but after removing in-form captain Daniel Flynn for a duck, and Brad Wilson and BJ Watling for little more, crucially they allowed the Knights' middle order to settle.
Seasoned from facing quality spin on New Zealand A's recent subcontinental tour, Mitchell (an unbeaten 88 off 47) changed the tempo of the innings after he and Australian pro Dan Harris coolly saw off the Stags' spin attack through the middle. Their 50 partnership arrived off just 39 balls, with Harris peppering a few sixes until an otherwise erratic first over from pace exponent Andy Mathieson claimed his wicket, caught behind.
The pair had hauled the scoreline from 19-3 to 99-4, but that, it turned out,was just the beginning. Now with the experience of Dan Vettori at the other end, Mitchell stepped up and, after seeing off the awkward angles of Marty Kain, had spectators scurrying for helmets as sixes began raining all round the ground.
Bringing up the Knights' 200 off the last ball of the innings, the 100 partnership between Mitchell and Vettori (32* off 15) was pummelled off just 39 balls in a pyrotechnic display that rivalled some late Guy Fawkes fireworks going off across Seddon Road.
Chasing a required run rate in double figures from the outset, the Stags got off to a disastrous start with Vettori - introduced in just the second over - outfoxing Jamie How. How was bowled for just one run, fellow opener Peter Trego becoming Vettori's second victim two balls later. Carl Cachopa (69 off 44) knuckled down against some fiery pace from Trent Boult, Ben Laughlin and a much-improved Tim Southee, clawing his way through the meat of the innings with Kruger van Wyk (59* off 38). But with the required run rate continually climbing, and Vettori (3-33) hungry for wickets, a huge finish was needed against an experienced bowling attack with their tails up.
Cachopa's wicket in the 17th over was effectively the death knell, the Knights coasting home to defeat the Stags by 31 runs. Said man of the moment Mitchell, "It was nice to get some time in the middle to help out the boys. Any opportunity you get, you take with both hands. We under-performed with both bat and ball last night, but were really happy with how we bounced back tonight."
The Knights now travel to Wellington to play the Firebirds on Tuesday with the Stags meeting the same opponents on Friday.