A Jesse Ryder-inspired Wellington began their domestic Twenty20 campaign with a comfortable six-wicket win at Westpac Stadium tonight.
Chasing 148 to beat Canterbury, Ryder's innings of 90 off 57 balls ensured the match was never a contest.
With his fast hands and good eye, Ryder was simply playing at a different level than any of the other batsmen on show, guiding his team victory with three overs to
Earlier, the Firebirds could scarcely have hoped for more than what they achieved with the ball.
George Worker, Peter Fulton and Dean Brownlie all hit the ball cleanlyfor Canterbury, but none were able to produce that type of innings that might have changed the match.
Worker made 23 from 18, Fulton 34 from 23 and Brownlie 11 from eight.
Fulton, especially looked good until he shovelled a Grant Elliott full-toss down Andy McKay's throat at square leg.
His dismissal left Canterbury 113 for two in the 15th over. It was hardly a disastrous situation, but his departure stalled all their early momentum.
No-one could bat with Brad Cachopa, who was nudging and hacking his way to 67 not out off 57 balls, and the Wizards' eventual total of 147 for six was about 30 short of what they'd seemed capable of.
Praise has to go to the ever-reliable Luke Woodcock, whose one for 22 off four overs was exactly the type of performance fans have come to expect.
Elliott bowled two critical, and cheap overs, snaring Fulton and then Brownlie.
Both played dopey shots, but credit must go to Elliott for having given neither batsman any pace to work with.
But the outstanding contributor was Shaun Tait. The Australian might not be as fearsome as he was several elbow surgeries ago, but he was still too quick and accurate for a few intimidated Wizards.
Tait's two for 14, from four overs, was high-class stuff and he was actually on a hat-trick in his final over, having gotten rid of Henry Nicholls and Logan van Beek in successive balls.
The quality of Wellington's reply was always going to be dictated by what Ryder did.
Clearly in a belligerent mood, Ryder took to all of the Canterbury bowlers from the outset.
Opening partner Michael Pollard tried similar but while he can swing the bat as hard as Ryder, he doesn't have nearly the quality, and just looked out of his depth.
He was eventually bowled by Australian import Ben Laughlin for 10 (14 balls). Michael Papps went first ball, leaving Wellington 48 for two. Twenty-eight of those runs had been Ryder's with Extras contributing the other 10.
Ryder was losing a bit of shape at times, but when he connected properly the ball was going miles. The
almighty crack that accompanied his cleaner strikes was incredible.
He had lives, caught off a no-ball by Fulton (on 47) and then dropped at long off by Ryan McCone seven runs later.
In between times he was taking Canterbury apart, aided by Cameron Borgas, who just knocked the ball around for his run-a-ball 24.
Another of the Aussie imports, Borgas knew his role was to feed Ryder the strike and thump the odd bad ball and he didn't overplay his hand at all. It was just sensible stuff and something Pollard might learn from.
He was bowled by a good nut from Australian Mitchell Claydon 18 short of victory, but had played a valuable innings at an important time.
Wellington v Canterbury at Westpac Stadium
B Cachopa not out 67
GH Worker c MHW Papps b LJ Woodcock 23
PG Fulton c AJ McKay b GD Elliott 34
DG Brownlie c JD Ryder b GD Elliott 11
SL Stewart c JD Ryder b AJ McKay 3
HM Nicholls b SR Tait 1
LV van Beek lbw b SR Tait 0
B Laughlin not out 1
Extras (lb 5, wd 2, nb 0) 7
Total (for 6 wickets, 20.0 overs) 147
Fall: 1-52 (GH Worker, 6.5), 2-113 (PG Fulton, 14.2), 3-129 (DG
Brownlie, 16.1), 4-138 (SL Stewart, 18.2), 5-146 (HM Nicholls, 19.4),
6-146 (LV van Beek, 19.5)
Bowling: MR Gillespie 4-0-43-0 (2w, SR Tait 4-0-14-2, AJ McKay
3-0-31-1, LJ Woodcock 4-0-22-1, JD Ryder 3-0-26-0, GD Elliott 2-0-6-2
JD Ryder not out 90
MA Pollard b B Laughlin 10
MHW Papps b B Laughlin 0
CA Borgas b ME Claydon 24
L Ronchi b B Laughlin 1
GD Elliott not out 8
Extras (b 8, wd 6, nb 1) 15
Total (for 4 wickets, 17.0 overs) 148
Fall: 1-48 (MA Pollard, 5.2), 2-48 (MHW Papps, 5.3), 3-130 (CA Borgas,
14.3), 4-133 (L Ronchi, 15.2)
Bowling: TG Johnston 4-0-48-0 (2w, ME Claydon 4-0-22-1, RJ McCone
2-0-11-0, B Laughlin 4-0-30-3, LV van Beek 3-0-29-0 (1nb)
- © Fairfax NZ News
Who's the best test cricket captain?