Aces trumped as Canterbury Wizards on roll

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2014
Andrew Ellis
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

WHACK: Wizards allrounder Brendon Diamanti smacks a boundary during Canterbury’s comfortable win over Auckland in the national Twenty20 cricket competition at Hagley Oval yesterday. 

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The Canterbury Wizards are on a Twenty20 roll, but there's still plenty of room for improvement according to former international Brendon Diamanti.

Diamanti was just one of a number of the Canterbury side to contribute in their 21-run victory over Auckland at Hagley Oval yesterday and the now Perth-based allrounder is adamant the side can still reach the playoffs and has more left in the tank.

Canterbury scored an above-par 201-6 yesterday before restricting Auckland to 180-9.

Built around a record 91-run fourth wicket partnership between Peter Fulton (48) and Tom Latham (44), Canterbury's score was always going to be a tough get for the visitors.

But when Diamanti and fellow middle order hitter Andrew Ellis added 45 in 23 balls and helped the side score 37 from the last two overs, Auckland were always on the back foot.

''Yeah I think it was just a good innings. We played the way we wanted to,'' Diamanti said.

''We had that quick start, the boys did the work in the middle overs and that allowed the middle order to pick it up.''

Diamanti, now a player-coach for Perth grade cricket side Rockingham-Mandurah, adds an extra hitting option and another experienced head to the Wizards' middle order.

His inclusion and the return of skipper Peter Fulton from test duties has worked well for the Red and Blacks.The new year has brought with it new form and new luck.

Their five pre-new year matches yielded two losses and three washouts. Since January 1, they're two from two.The Wizards remain

in fifth place in the six-team competition and if they want to make the playoffs for the top three teams, they're still in must-win mode.

Next up is Diamanti's old side, the bottom-placed Central Districts, tomorrow in New Plymouth.

And if yesterday is anything to go by, Canterbury are well placed to make a charge for the top three.

Five players scored more than 20 and the wickets were shared in a match which followed the Wizards' simple but effective game plan - they go hard at the start, consolidate through the middle overs then use their hitters to add the cream on top at the end.

Their boundary hitting was much improved.

In their 10-run win over the Northern Knights last Thursday, Canterbury reached the rope just nine times; yesterday they did it 24 times - 15 fours and nine sixes.

In the other match yesterday, Otago waltzed to a seven-wicket win over the Central Stags chasing down 148 with 15 balls to spare 

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