Jesse Ryder marked his return from injury with a brutal display to help the Wellington Firebirds beat the Otago Volts by 25 runs in a Ford Trophy one-day match at Invercargill today.
In his comeback appearance from a calf strain Ryder made every post a winner as he belted a frenetic 96 off 67 balls as the Firebirds racked up 276 in 47.5 overs at Queen’s Park.
The Volts responded with 251 in 48 overs after a spirited fightback thanks to punishing half-centuries from Jimmy Neesham and Derek de Boorder.
Ryder, the much talked about international, was in glorious touch to strike 11 fours and five sixes as he and captain Grant Elliott rebuilt an innings which had been teetering at 59 for four when opener Josh Brodie was run out for 23 in the 14th over.
Ryder and Elliott put on 120 for the fifth wicket in just 14 overs before Ryder departed in the 28th when caught on the square leg boundary when attempting to reach his century with his sixth six.
Elliott, who finished with a fine 63 off 73 balls, then found support from Harry Boam, who made 43 off 57, combined to add 67 but the Wellington lower order crumbled as the last four wickets fell for 16 runs.
Left-arm fast bowler Neil Wagner took two of the late wickets to tumble to finish with the figures of four for 30 off 8.5 overs.
The Volts suffered an immediate setback in their response when left-arm swing bowler Andy McKay trapped Neil Broom leg before wicket for a first ball duck then Mark Gillespie removed Aaron Redmond and Craig Cumming cheaply.
Cumming fell to a very sharp catch at slip by Ryder, reducing the hosts to 53 for three which became 80 for four inside 18 overs when Darren Broom was caught for 11 by Stephen Murdoch off James Franklin.
Ryder was again in the action shortly after when he dived forward at cover to catch Michael Bracewell for 41 and the Volts’ cause worsened when Franklin picked up his third wicket in 17 balls to dismiss Sam Wells for one.
It was seemingly all over bar the shouting at 87 for six but not before Neesham gave the Volts reason to hope as he gave a clinical display of clean hitting in a robust, career best 69 off 57 balls.
Neesham struck seven fours and four sixes as he and wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder shared a seventh wicket partnership of 109 off 101 balls which ended in the 39th over when McKay had Neesham caught by Josh Brodie.
De Boorder remained a threat until the 45th over when he was caught at long on after scoring a defiant 64 off 69 balls, with five fours and two sixes.
Franklin enjoyed his day’s work, ending with his best figures for Wellington of five for 46 off 10 overs while Gillespie took two for 21 off nine.
The Volts finished the round robin in third place and next meet the Canterbury Wizards in the minor preliminary final on Sunday.