Chris Woakes farewelled Wellington on a high yesterday and will be replaced by another Englishman as the Firebirds stop at nothing to win the Twenty20 competition.
In comes Dimitri Mascarenhas, a former English limited-overs international who is playing at club level in Melbourne but cannot crack one of the Big Bash sides.
Mascarenhas becomes this season's import No 5 for Wellington, who started with Australians Shaun Tait and Cameron Borgas before moving to Woakes and Tamin Iqbal.
Woakes and Iqbal had a bearing on yesterday's 53-run win over Central Districts in a weather- shortened game at the Basin Reserve.
There were hopes for a bumper Boxing Day crowd of almost 4000, but the weather put paid to that, though an 18-over game was manageable.
Those who braved the conditions saw Wellington post 213-5 on a belter of a pitch, with Woakes top-scoring with an unbeaten 55 from 29 balls and Iqbal kicking things off with 35 from 20.
Wellington omitted Michael Pollard, loaded up with their big guns and set about putting Central to the sword. The script initially didn't go to plan, with Jesse Ryder facing only three balls in the opening four overs, but it mattered little as Iqbal scored at Ryder-like pace.
It was basically come as you please throughout the 18 overs. Ryder hit five sixes (47 off 22), Woakes hit four and Grant Elliott finished off the innings with 35 runs from 18 balls.
You'd imagine Wellington will strike a more committed side than Central when they meet Auckland tomorrow. Central sides normally come to the Basin and field their backsides off but not this one, which dropped more than it caught and apart from its imports, Peter Trego and Kyle Jarvis, bowled a pile of tripe.
Central were handicapped in pursuit of victory. They lost Jacob Oram before the game after his wife went into labour and then Trego tore an oblique muscle in the field, but if truth be told they didn't deserve to win a meat raffle yesterday.
There is speculation Central are looking to hire Chris Gayle for the final two rounds but after five losses on the trot the wind may quickly go out of the Gayle sail.
Central were never serious contenders to score at 12 an over so it was little more than entertainment value as Mathew Sinclair (71) put bat to ball.
Woakes delivered the final over of the game and he leaves Wellington in a sound position with three wins from five games.
Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons was rapt with the consistency of his remodelled batting lineup and also gave a pat on the back to some of the lesser names in his bowling attack in Dane Hutchinson, Scott Kuggeleijn and left-arm spinner Mark Houghton.
Northern Districts beat Auckland by 23 runs under the Duckworth Lewis system yesterday.
Scott Styris smashed 68 not out off 26 balls, including eight sixes.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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