Proving that nothing is a foregone conclusion in the HRV Twenty20, the Canterbury Wizards today overcame a lacklustre batting performance on a good pitch to register their first HRV Twenty20 win against one of the competition's high-flying teams, the SKYCITY Northern Knights.
After choosing to bat first in brilliant sunshine, the Wizards lacked for partnerships and were restricted to a lean 125-7.
The innings had got off to a spectacular start with Anton Devcich bowling Rob Nicol first ball, but it would be Devcich's sole over as Knights captain Daniel Flynn shuffled his bowlers like cards, with the slower combo of Scott Styris, Ish Sodhi and Jono Boult particularly effective.
Only Tom Latham (44) and Brendon Diamanti (37) pulled together any partnership of note - a 79-run revival that proved crucial to the Wizards' fate in front of a packed Bay Oval.
Chasing a smudge over six runs an over, Knights openers Flynn and Devcich set off confidently, but when Hamish Bennett (2-18) removed both to be on a hat-trick in the third over, the complexion of the game turned. Locked into accumulation mode by effective bowling, despite wickets in hand the Knights found their required run rate escalating at the death, 49 runs needed off the final five overs. The pressure told as batsmen were forced to hit out against a disciplined attack. Andrew Ellis picked up 3-23, including the removal of an aggressive Scott Styris, and a fine fielding performance saw Ronnie Hira pocket three outstanding catches - including the dangerous wicket of Daryl Mitchell on the boundary as the Wizards closed out for an 11-run victory.
Said Wizards captain Peter Fulton, "It was one of those games where the quality of the batting wasn't as high as that of the bowling and fielding - the pitch was better than the scores reflect, but we got some crucial early wickets which allowed us to put pressure on the middle order. We're very happy to be on the board finally after a lot of bad luck with weather earlier in the competition."
The SKYCITY Northern Knights meet the Hell Wellington Firebirds at the same venue on 4 January, while the Wizards return home to Hagley Oval where they face the Auckland Aces on 5 January.