It was a case of "Anything you can do, we can do better" as the SKYCITY Northern Knights trumped the HELL Wellington Firebirds in a sensational high-scoring match at Mount Maunganui's Blake Park this evening.
Chasing a not inconsiderable 198 to win after a 90-run double act between Jesse Ryder and Tamim Iqbal had set up the Firebirds' innings, the Northern Knights needed to post their highest total of the season to defeat the Firebirds in front of a strong New Year's Day turnout.
But their own opening duo of Brad Wilson and Anton Devcich were up to the task, shattering the previous Northern Districts first wicket record of 65 to post a stellar new mark of 165 - a record for any wicket and the season's best stand for any wicket by any side.
Wilson, who was finally caught for 74 off 49, off Ryder in the 16th over, had also had a hand in the previous opening partnership record, set with BJ Watling against the Auckland Aces last season. With sublime placement he regularly bisected the field and was the first to race to a half-century, which came off just 32 balls, to ensure the home side kept abreast of the required run-rate from the early stages of the chase.
By the midway mark a mere 88 off 60 were left to achieve, and after Wilson's dismissal the equation for Northern had dropped to 31 from 24 - with new batsman Steven Croft immediately adopting his range-hitting pose. Devcich carried his bat for a match-winning personal best of 92 off 57, including 11 fours and two sixes, as the Knights surged back to the top of the HRV Cup table with a nine-wicket win.
Remarkably the Wellington Firebirds had looked well in control of the match at the break, having won the toss and blazed to 197/4 in sunny conditions, and against loose line and length bowling from the home attack. It was a baptism of fire for 20-year-old Knights debutant Ish Sodhi bowling to a rampant Ryder - who reached 50 in just 25 balls - and Iqbal (68 off 49), whose wicket in the 17th saw the Firebirds handily placed 160/3.
Devcich's unbeaten 92 was only two runs shy of Northern's best individual T20 score, a mark set by Peter McGlashan in 2006, and fittingly it was he who hit the winning boundary to see his team card five victories from seven matches.