Wellington Firebirds smash Canty Wizards
Malaesaili Tugaga's stunning Twenty20 debut has all but secured his Wellington Firebirds a playoff spot in the domestic cricket competition.
The 22 year old took a Wellington-best 4-18 from his four overs, including a double wicket maiden, as the Firebirds thumped the Canterbury Wizards by a whopping 57 runs at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval.
After frustrating opener Rob Nicol in his opening over, Tugaga then forced the Black Cap into a poorly timed shot to nab his first wicket.
He then removed Brad Cachopa and Wizards captain Tom Latham in his second over as the Wizards stumbled to 14-3.
He finished his four wicket haul by removing George Worker with the final ball of his spell.
While Tugaga was impressive, Wellington's batting had already set-up the victory, their fifth of the season.
Jesse Ryder and Tamim Iqbal put on 71 for the first wicket before Ryder was removed by Ronnie Hira for a typically breezy and bullish 37 off 24 balls.
The Summer of Jesse looked set to continue when the powerful lefty slammed the first ball he faced over square leg for six.
The near full house at Rangiora was treated to a brief look at what the rest of the country have seen from Ryder all season and his timing, placement and power was again a standout.
But when he went, Iqbal and another debutant, Ben Orton (37), carried on. They put on 78 for the second wicket.
Iqbal ensured the Wizards had no reprieve even after Ryder was dismissed and his 47-ball 74 was the Bangladeshi's best knock of the competition.
It really was Wellington's day; even the seemingly strange decision to leave the in-form and hard-hitting Luke Ronchi in the hutch when Iqbal departed, again to Hira, in the 16th over, worked.
Instead former Cantab Michael Papps was sent out and it proved a masterstroke by Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons.
Papps, better known for timing and placement rather than brute force, smacked a quickfire 32 off just 17 balls and ensured the Firebirds reached the highest T20 score ever recorded at Rangiora.
Canterbury's 191 target was always going to be difficult and when Tugaga destroyed their top order it was near impossible.
Andrew Ellis was the only Canterbury player to bat for any period of time before he was well stumped by Ronchi off the bowling of Luke Woodcock.
He scored 48 and with the second top score of just 22, the Wizards never threatened and their season is all but over.
T Iqbal c Nicol b Hira 74
J Ryder c Henry b Hira 37
B Orton not out 37
M Papps not out 32
Extras (2b, 5lb, 3w) 10
Total (for two wickets, 20 overs) 190
Fall of wickets: 71, 148
Bowling: M Claydon 4-0-35-0 (1wd), M Henry 2-0-18-0, G Andrew 1-0-13-0, L van Beek 2-0-20-0 (1wd), R Nicol 4-0-41-0, R Hira 4-0-32-2 (1wd), B Diamanti 3-0-24-0.
R Nicol c Elliott b Tugaga 5
B Cachopa c Ronchi b Tugaga 5
G Worker c Orton b Tugaga 8
T Latham c Orton b Tugaga 0
A Ellis st Ronchi b Woodcock 48
G Andrew c Ryder b Woodcock 13
B Diamanti c Boam b Ryder 6
L van Beek c Friday b Woodcock 7
R Hira c Boam b Houghton 22
M Henry st Ronchi b Houghton 2
M Claydon not out 6
Extras (5b, 4lb, 2w) 11
Total (all out, 19 overs) 133
Fall of wickets: 10, 14, 14, 41, 60 79, 92, 115, 126, 133
Bowling: M Houghton 4-0-23-2 (1wd), M Tugaga 4-1-18-4 (1wd), S Friday 2-0-15-0, J Ryder 4-0-23-1, L Woodcock 4-0-36-3, H Boam 1-0-9-0.
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?