It was a tit for tat victory by the Otago Volts over the SKYCITY Northern Knights tonight, after they swept past a sub-par total on Seddon Park to win with an over to spare. The Knights had downed the Volts away last Saturday night, but at home little went their way from the minute Volts captain Derek de Boorder won the toss and sent them in on a perfectly still Hamilton evening.
Knights captain Daniel Flynn once again led from the front with a punchy 79 off 53, but the loss of three quick wickets in the sixth and seventh overs put paid to the aggressive start. A further, critical blow came when Scott Styris injured his calf early in his innings, retiring hurt in the ninth over to play no further part in the game.
Neil Wagner (4-33) was the chief destroyer and ultimately ended Flynn's almost single-handed defiance before adding two more wickets in the space of three balls in the last over of the innings. The pressure, however, had been built by a superb turn from off-spinner Nick Beard through the middle, Beard finishing with an economical 1-18 off his set of four.
When the Knights could only struggle to 151/8, the Volts knew their job had just been made easier against a quality attack that included returning BLACKCAPS strike bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee. But while Boult's dual with Jesse Ryder at the front of the innings was absorbing, Southee's night was luckless in a game with no margin for error. Ryder brutally swiped him for three leg-side sixes in his first over, and although Boult won his dual with Ryder shortly after, it wasn't until the three-quarters mark of the game that the Volts looked anything other than efficient in their chase.
Southee had finally had some luck - picking up the gold-plated wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate (29 off 21) thanks to a brilliant, flying catch from BJ Watling. Now, the Volts needed just 30 runs from five overs, but a dramatic flurry of wickets suddenly brought the Knights right back into the game.
Daniel Vettori was too good for Michael Bracewell (26 off 21), while a lightning swoop and direct hit at the non-striker's from Flynn ran out Mark Craig to plunge the Volts to 134/7. Vettori kept up the pressure, but the luckless Southee could not hold out in his last over, losing control of a slower ball to be caned for four by Iain Robertson (an unbeaten 21 off 11), who then repeated the treatment off Southee's more exacting follow-up. The pressure lifted, a Robertson six creamed high and straight into the embankment put the finishing touch on the victory in the 19th over.
The SKYCITY Northern Knights now host the Devon Hotel Central Stags at the same venue tomorrow night, while the Volts return to red ball cricket in the Plunket Shield.