Wellington rout Canterbury to reach the final

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 17:09 02/04/2014
Michael Pollard
Photosport
FINAL-BOUND: Opening batsman Michael Pollard scored 70 as Wellington cruised in their chase, beating Canterbury by eight wickets to reach the one-day cricket final against Northern Districts.

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The Wellington Firebirds are just one win away from breaking a 10-year title drought after thumping the Canterbury Wizards in the national one-day competition today.

The Firebirds won by eight wickets in the preliminary final at Hagley Oval and will now meet Northern Districts in the final.

After qualifying fourth, Wellington have beaten Auckland away in their third versus fourth semifinal and now upset Canterbury in Christchurch.

Having won the toss in this morning and inserting Canterbury, Wellington were in trouble early as their hosts reached 100-1 before stumbling to 100-4.

Canterbury slipped further to 125-6, but a valuable 85-run record seventh-wicket stand between Todd Astle (38) and Andrew Ellis (81) gave the home side back the momentum.

After a lengthy and patient rebuilding period, Canterbury allowed themselves the luxury of a swing at the end, taking 11, 10, 14, 18 and 13 off the final five overs.

Ellis recorded his second domestic half century in a row and scored his highest score at this level. Starting sedately his first 21 runs took 49 balls but his last 60 came off just 27.  

Luke Woodcock was the best of the Wellington bowlers and at one stage had 3-5 from his first three overs. He finished with 3-26 from 10 overs while Grant Elliott and Jeetan Patel both took two wickets apiece.

The vistiors' reply was controlled, well-paced and comfortable.

Michael Papps (32) and Michael Pollard (70) put on 55 for the opening wicket before Pollard and Stephen Murdoch added another 95 for the second.

Their batting wobbles of the last two matches - both against Auckland - were absent this time and Wellington waltzed to their target against a bowling attack that was sorely missing the venom it had with the new ball in recent weeks.

When Pollard was dismissed, Murdoch (80) and Wellington skipper James Franklin (53 off 39 balls) continued the rout.  

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