Jeetan Patel turns up trumps for title search
James Franklin was getting a little grumpy after 19.3 overs of yesterday's knockout one-dayer at the Basin Reserve.
Having asked Northern Districts to bat first on a lively pitch, Wellington's captain watched on as openers Anton Devcich and Daniel Flynn negotiated their way to 97-0 at a nice clip.
Another big run-chase appeared in store until Harry Boam's medium pace removed both left-handers within the space of three balls.
From there it was the Jeetan Patel show as the off-spinner settled into a match-winning spell of 4-21 from 10 overs.
Young quick Tipene Friday chipped in with the key wickets of Corey Anderson and Daniel Vettori as Northern crumbled to 140 all out in just 36.1 overs.
That was never going to be enough and Luke Ronchi wasn't in the mood to muck around, belting 76 off 59 balls and endangering the health of at least one spectator.
So Wellington's search for some overdue silverware will carry on in Christchurch, where they meet Canterbury in Wednesday's major preliminary final.
The winners of that match will get a shot at a dominant Auckland side in Sunday's final.
"I think Harry getting the two openers in one over was obviously massive," said Franklin, who wasn't required to bat in yesterday's eight-wicket victory.
"Our first 19 overs wasn't our greatest cricket. We just weren't consistent with constantly putting the ball in the right area. Devcich and Flynn both batted well but it wasn't a train smash either. We knew if we got a couple of wickets we could turn it around pretty quickly and Harry did that. Jeets was outstanding. The last game he bowled beautifully and he just continued that on. He really put the squeeze on and got four wickets. So there's not much you can say, getting 10 wickets for 40-odd runs in a prelim final is pretty awesome. And Ronchs chasing it down the way he did was outstanding."
Wellington are now brimming with confidence and won't have any fears about travelling south, having whipped the Wizards by seven wickets less than a fortnight ago.
"Yeah, to be honest, when I look back, we've only really been outplayed in one game, CD out here, early in the competition," Franklin said.
"We've lost twice to Auckland but both were quite close games and we obviously beat Canterbury pretty well down there. So we've been tracking well but form counts for nothing when you get to knockout cricket. Knockout cricket hasn't been a common thing around here so we're just really enjoying the occasion."
Batsmen seemed to be breaking records every day during the first half of the competition but now the bowlers are having their turn.
Franklin said the late-season weather was playing a factor.
"With the heat gone out of the sun a bit now, the wickets aren't drying like they would have three or four weeks ago. They seem to stay the same way so I think the bowlers are pretty happy at the moment. They took some punishment in those first few games."
Franklin said he would resume bowling at training this week but was still "a couple of weeks away" from being 100 per cent and performing in games.
The left-armer is recovering from a slight tear in an oblique stomach muscle.
"I'll leave it to the guys that are doing it well."
Auckland thrashed Canterbury by 128 runs in yesterday's other minor preliminary final.
The Aces "hosted" the game at Hamilton's Seddon Park because Eden Park was being used for the third test against England.
But it mattered little as the in-form Colin Munro led the way with 118 off 81 balls, including six sixes.
Auckland's 314-9 proved plenty as only Shanan Stewart (71) and Rob Nicol (45) offered any real resistance.
Canterbury were bowled out for 186 in the 44th over, with veteran Chris Martin taking 5-21.
The Dominion Post