The English connection of Steven Croft and James Foster again propelled the Northen Knights to victory in their Twenty20 match in Hamilton tonight.
The imported duo repeated their match-winning effort from the home team’s opening HRV Cup victory as the hosts chased down the Central Stags tally of 149 for six off their 20 overs with six wickets to spare and five balls remaining.
The victory meant the SkyCity Knights climbed to the lead in the competition with two wins from as many matches.
Croft made an unbeaten 59 from 48 balls (six fours and a six), Foster rattled off 26 off 12 balls while skipper Scott Styris gave the innings impetus with 46 off 35 deliveries, including four fours and two sixes.
In-form Stags batsman Carl Cachopa was the only member of the Stags to flourish with the bat, and his impressive unbeaten 64 made the Knights work hard in their chase.
Central import Peter Trego took a wicket with his first ball by removing Brad Wilson and then unwanted Black Cap BJ Watling perished in the next over when getting a leading edge off Ben Wheeler.
When Trego forced Anton Devcich to drag a short one on to his stumps in the fourth over, the pursuit of victory was stuttering at 20-3.
Croft and Styris took a measured approach to the chase, looking to work singles mixed with the odd boundary, to leave the Knights requiring 89 off the second half of the innings with seven wickets in hand.
They then took 16 from the first over bowled by Stags skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett to gain momentum for the run home.
Earlier, the visitors won the toss and chose to bat, but made a hesitant beginning as left-arm spinner Devcich proved difficult to score off when opening the bowling.
However, it was the home team’s seamers who capitalised as the Stags felt the pressure to lift their run-rate.
Corey Anderson took two catches at mid-on off Scott Styris and Graeme Aldridge as Trego and Dean
Robinson both mis-hit forcing shots to see the Stags in trouble at 17-2 in the sixth over.
Jamie How narrowly avoided being run out when on 17 when a direct hit from Anderson almost caught him short, but third umpire Barry Frost adjudged in How’s favour after a number of views of the television replay.
How went not long after though for 21 to a sharp caught and bowled by Croft with his first ball. The former New Zealand batsman smacked a drive back at Croft’s head, but Croft first parried it into the air before diving back to snare the catch.
In the same over, Croft had Mathew Sinclair stumped by fellow import James Foster to leave the Stags staggering at 49-4 midway through their innings.
Noema-Barnett and Cachopa endeavoured to conduct a rescue act but Noema-Barnett (15) perished to Devcich, who finished with the outstanding figures of 1-15 off his four overs.
Cachopa was left to play a sole hand as he plundered a well-struck 64 off just 33 balls, featuring four sixes and five fours to help the visitors reach a defendable total, with 44 runs coming off the last three overs.
NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs CENTRAL STAGS
23 November 2012, Seddon Park, Hamilton
PD Trego c CJ Anderson b SB Styris 5
JM How c & b SJ Croft 21
DS Robinson c CJ Anderson b GW Aldridge 3
MS Sinclair st JS Foster b SJ Croft 13
K Noema-Barnett c & b AP Devcich 15
Carl Cachopa not out 64
WA Young run out (JAH Marshall/JS Foster) 5
MO Kain not out 12
Extras (lb 9, wd 2, nb 0) 11
Total (for 6 wickets, 20.0 overs) 149
Fall: 1-9 (PD Trego, 1.6), 2-17 (DS Robinson, 5.2), 3-48 (JM How, 9.1), 4-49 (MS Sinclair, 9.6), 5-79 (K Noema-Barnett, 14.3), 6-104 (WA Young, 16.4)
Bowling: AP Devcich 4-0-15-1 (1w, SB Styris 4-0-20-1, BJ Arnel 3-0-23-0 (1w, GW Aldridge 3-0-40-1, BE Scott 4-0-30-0, SJ Croft 2-0-12-2
BS Wilson c MS Sinclair b PD Trego 9
AP Devcich b PD Trego 10
BJ Watling c PD Trego b BM Wheeler 1
SJ Croft not out 59
SB Styris lbw b BM Wheeler 46
JS Foster not out 26
Extras (lb 0, wd 2, nb 0) 2
Total (for 4 wickets, 19.1 overs) 153
Fall: 1-9 (BS Wilson, 1.1), 2-16 (BJ Watling, 2.4), 3-20 (AP Devcich, 3.4), 4-100 (SB Styris, 14.4)
Bowling: BM Wheeler 3.1-0-23-2 (1w, PD Trego 4-0-30-2, AF Milne 4-0-35-0, TS Nethula 3-0-23-0 (1w, MO Kain 4-0-26-0, K Noema-Barnett 1-0-16-0
Win to Northern Knights by six wickets.
- Waikato Times
With the World Cup just around the corner, how do you think the Black Caps will go?