Wellington Firebirds go hard to beat Auckland
Cop that Auckland, and the rest of the Twenty20 competition.
Something needed to light a fire under Wellington’s batting order and chasing 201 to beat the Aces at Eden Park did the trick, as the Firebirds scorched home by six wickets last night.
Victory took Wellington to a two-win, two-loss record and gave them renewed hope of figuring in the finals when their campaign resumes on December 27.
Both Wellington’s wins have come chasing big totals, with the other being last Friday’s successful pursuit of 196 to beat Central Districts.
So we’ve seen that the Firebirds can go hard when they’re forced to and the trick now is to produce the same intent when they’re the ones setting the total.
It’s hard to know how critical to be of what Wellington did with the ball. The easiest thing is probably just to say that Brent Arnel (4-0-26-0) and James Franklin (3-0-17-1) were good and that most of the others were mixed, largely as a consequence of the fact that miss-hits end up in the stands at Eden Park.
Shaun Tait (4-0-59-1) was poor, though, and has been throughout his four-game stint as Wellington’s marquee import.
Watching him remorselessly bang the ball in short, and it disappear to or over the rope, was some of the worst cricket you could wish to see.
It certainly heaped added pressure on those that were bowling in tandem with him and enabled the Aces to get off to a flier.
Arnel, Dane Hutchinson, Franklin and Grant Elliott all did useful jobs to peg that back, before Colin Munro (53 from 22) and Colin de Grandhomme (30 from 11) pushed Auckland to the promised land of 200.
Wellington’s batsmen can all play, but 10 an over tends to be more than they’re capable of going at, so the hosts would’ve gone into the change of innings feeling that they’d scored enough to win by 15 or 20.
But with their hand forced it was essential the Firebirds got after the bowling and they did. Travis Birt finally looked like the player he has been for the Hobart Hurricanes over a long period of time, peppering the leg side boundaries during his 17-ball knock of 41.
That set the Firebirds’ innings up and enabled others to play within their limitations. Franklin made 35 off 17 and looked magnificent, before softly chopping on at 128 for three.
He’d looked capable of winning the game at a canter and while it was a shame he got out, Franklin’s reaction to his dismissal was terrific.
For one of the few times in his career he was visibly angry, which was a sight to gladden the heart of many a Firebirds fan.
Michael Papps (58 not out off 41) and Elliott (34 from 27) ensured there’d be no wobbles without Franklin, during a chase of the highest quality.
Scoreboard from Auckland vs Wellington domestic Twenty20 match at Eden Park, Auckland:
M Guptill c Birt b Woodcock 21
A Kitchen c Papps b Elliott 43
L Wright c Arnel b Franklin 1
C Cachopa c Ronchi b Tait 43
C Munro not out 53
C de Grandhomme not out 30
Extras (lb 3, wd 6, nb 0) 9
Total (for 4 wickets, 20.0 overs) 200
Fall: 1-66 (Guptill, 7.4), 2-68 (Wright, 8.1), 3-72 (Kitchen, 9.5), 4-161 (Cachopa, 17.4)
Bowling: L Woodcock 3-0-34-1 (1w, S Tait 4-0-59-1 (2w, B Arnel 4-0-26-0 (1w, D Hutchinson 4-0-42-0 (2w, J Franklin 3-0-17-1, G Elliott 2-0-19-1
M Pollard c Cachopa b Mills 20
T Birt c Cachopa b Martin 41
M Papps not out 58
J Franklin b Mills 35
G Elliott c Bates b de Grandhomme 34
L Ronchi not out 4
Extras (b 4, lb 4, wd 2, nb 0) 10
Total (for 4 wickets, 19.2 overs) 202
Fall: 1-30 (M Pollard, 2.6), 2-81 (T Birt, 6.4), 3-128 ( Franklin, 10.5), 4-196 ( Elliott, 18.4)
Bowling: K Mills 4-0-43-2, M McClenaghan 4-0-31-0, L Wright 2-0-33-0, M Bates 3.2-0-27-0, B Martin 4-0-46-1, C de Grandhomme 2-0-14-1 (2w
Wellington won by six wickets