SKYCITY Northern Knights 156-6 (Anton Devcich 57, Brad Wilson 40; Logan van Beek 2-17) lost to Canterbury Wizards 157-5 (Rob Nicol 61, Peter Fulton 30; Jono Boult 3-19 ) by 5 wickets
In a match that determined the 2014 HRV Twenty20 finalists, a determined Canterbury Wizards effort edged the SKYCITY Northern Knights with just an over to spare at a gusty Hagley Oval.
The Wizards made the best of a slower-paced deck and the breezy conditions, squeezing out the Knights to set up a repeat encounter in Friday’s Preliminary Final at Seddon Park. A return to form by Rob Nicol (61 off 48) laid the foundations of the crunch win as the Wizards chased down 157, but it was a star turn from Peter Fulton that snatched the game away from the Knights.
Ish Sodhi had earlier been creamed for two sixes by Nicol in his first over: bringing the young leg-spinner back in the swirly nor’wester was a gamble by Knights skipper Daniel Flynn. The Wizards captain made them pay, swiping three sixes from the 13th over in his quickfire 30 - rapidly dropping the required equation to run-a-ball pace.
Off-spinner Jono Boult (3-19) - arguably the Knights’ best slow bowler this season, quickly tried to make amends. He snared the wickets of Nicol and Tom Latham to be on an HRV Twenty20 hat-trick for the second time this summer, setting up a potential nail-biter with the Wizards needing 16 from the last 18 balls.
However, when Ellis and Brendon Diamanti found 12 runs from the 18th, all that remained was a cake-walk to the winning runs and a Preliminiary Final berth.
Having chosen to bat first and already guaranteed a finals berth, the Knights had earlier been forced to make a cautious start against the pace duo of Matt Henry and Hamish Bennett, with a mid-innings 86-run partnership off 58 balls between opening batsman Anton Devcich and Brad Wilson hauling the run rate into defendable territory.
Wilson, who had survived a bungled run out opportunity on 27, in particular took a shine to the Canterbury spinners: he had just peeled 11 runs off a combustible Ronnie Hira when he fell on the final ball of Hira’s last over. Matt Henry took the running catch at long on, Wilson having looked for one lusty boundary too many.
The visitors finished poorly, their 156-6 not enough against a strategically solid performance from their hosts - costing the Knights direct entry to next weekend’s HRV Twenty20 Final.