The Northern Knights stumbled to a shock defeat in their Twenty20 match against the Canterbury Wizards in Mount Maunganui today.
The hosts needed just 126 batting second to grab sole top spot in the HRV Twenty20 competition encounter but lost by 11 runs as the visitors produced a fine defensive bowling performance.
The loss left the Knights still sharing top spot on 16 points from six of their 10 round robin matches, the same as the defending champion Otago Volts. The Wellington Firebirds have 16 points from seven matches respectively while the Wizards grabbed their first win of their campaign to move up to fifth spot with 10 points.
Canterbury skipper Peter Fulton won the toss and chose to bat at Bay Oval but the opening over proved disastrous for the visitors.
Rob Nicol had his stumps disturbed by the first ball of the match from left-arm spinner Anton Devcich and the occasional Black Cap backed that up by enticing Dean Brownlie to push back an easy caught and bowled dismissal off the fifth ball.
Somewhat surprisingly, Devcich didn't bowl again, being replaced by veteran seamer Graeme Aldridge while Black Caps test spearhead Trent Boult was used from the other end.
Knights skipper Daniel Flynn rotated his bowlers with dizzyingly effective results - when Black Caps test leg-spinner Ish Sodhi delivered the eighth over, he was the sixth bowler used by the hosts.
Tom Latham made a stylish 44 off 36 balls to give the Canterbury innings some desperate substance, while Brendon Diamanti made 37 off as many deliveries after surprisingly being given not out when on 1 after it appeared he'd been caught off Scott Styris, only for it to be ruled a bump ball.
Boult was a real handful in his four overs, conceding just 17 while older brother Jono excelled in the latter stages of the innings to finish with 2-23 off his full complement of off-spinners. Sodhi looked like he'd benefited from his mentoring session with Shane Warne, claiming 1-14 off three overs and snaring a sharp caught and bowled to get rid off Fulton.
The Knights got off to a rapid start but also suffered a double setback in the third over when Hamish Bennett picked up the wickets of openers Devcich and Flynn in consecutive balls.
Brad Wilson (43 off 53 balls) and BJ Watling (16 off 23) faced some demanding bowling from an array of seam and spin and had to be content to chiefly work singles and keep wickets in hand for the lift in run-rate required in the latter stages of the chase.
The Knights required 60 from the last eight overs and then 50 from five and 44 from four as the visitors applied the pressure.
Daryl Mitchell hit a six off the first ball he faced but the Knights still required 23 off the last two overs. The equation reached 18 from nine balls when Styris skied one off Andrew Ellis that Roneel Hira clutched gleefully running in from long on and Hira also snared Mitchell off Ellis tiptoeing along the boundary two balls later.
Needing 18 off the last over, the hosts never got close.
Bennett took 2-18 from four impressive overs, Hira took 1-18 from four as Northern laboured after the low target and Ellis picked up 3-23 from three.
Meanwhile, a century from star all rounder Nicola Browne pushed the Northern Spirit to their first win of the season.
The Spirit triumphed by 26 runs in their one-day match against the Canterbury Magicians in Rangiora yesterday.
Browne made 108 batting at No 4 before being run out off the final ball of the innings. She struck seven fours and two sixes and made 56 per cent of the Spirit's 50-over tally of 193-8.
Brooke Kirkbride then took 4-29 off her 10 overs as the hosts were bowled out for 167 in the 46th over, while Browne completed a fine match double with 2-18 off eight overs.
NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs CANTERBURY WIZARDS
Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui
> RJ Nicol b AP Devcich 0
> GH Worker b SB Styris 14
> DG Brownlie c & b AP Devcich 0
> PG Fulton c & b IS Sodhi 21
> TWM Latham c AP Devcich b JJ Boult 44
> BJ Diamanti c DJ Mitchell b JJ Boult 37
> AM Ellis run out (DJ Mitchell/BJ Watling) 4
> RM Hira not out 1
> MJ Henry not out 0
> Extras (lb 1, wd 3, nb 0) 4
> Total (for 7 wickets, 20.0 overs) 125
> Fall: 1-0 (RJ Nicol, 0.1), 2-0 (DG Brownlie, 0.5), 3-36 (GH Worker, 6.5), 4-41 (PG Fulton, 7.6), 5-120 (BJ Diamanti, 19.2), 6-120 (TWM Latham, 19.3), 7-125 (AM Ellis, 19.6)
> Bowling: AP Devcich 1-0-1-2, TA Boult 4-0-17-0 (2w, GW Aldridge 2-0-17-0, SC Kuggeleijn 2-0-24-0, SB Styris 4-0-28-1, IS Sodhi 3-0-14-1 (1w, JJ Boult 4-0-23-2
> DR Flynn b HK Bennett 13
> AP Devcich c BJ Diamanti b HK Bennett 8
> BS Wilson c RM Hira b AM Ellis 43
> BJ Watling c RJ Nicol b RM Hira 16
> SB Styris c RM Hira b AM Ellis 10
> DJ Mitchell c RM Hira b AM Ellis 11
> SC Kuggeleijn not out 5
> JJ Boult c RJ Nicol b LV van Beek 1
> TA Boult not out 0
> Extras (lb 0, wd 6, nb 1) 7
> Total (for 7 wickets, 20.0 overs) 114
> Fall: 1-22 (AP Devcich, 2.4), 2-22 (DR Flynn, 2.5), 3-67 (BJ Watling, 12.4), 4-94 (BS Wilson, 16.5), 5-108 (SB Styris, 18.4), 6-108 (DJ Mitchell, 18.6), 7-110 (JJ Boult, 19.4)
> Bowling: HK Bennett 4-0-18-2 (1w, MJ Henry 4-0-22-0 (1w, AM Ellis 3-0-23-3 (4w, 1nb), RJ Nicol 4-0-27-0, RM Hira 4-0-18-1, LV van Beek 1-0-6-1
- Fairfax Media
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