Firebirds beat awful Wizards

DESPAIR: Canterbury Wizard Rob Nicol is dejected after being dismissed for five runs at the Mainpower Oval in Rangiora yesterday
DESPAIR: Canterbury Wizard Rob Nicol is dejected after being dismissed for five runs at the Mainpower Oval in Rangiora yesterday

There's bad, there's really bad and then there's how the Canterbury Wizards played yesterday.

They were awful.

The 57-run loss to an impressive Wellington Firebirds outfit at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval all but ended their playoff hopes.

It was a limp showing in front of 1500 spectators enjoying the side's first domestic Twenty20 home game within 150 kilometres of Christchurch this season.

The weather was great, Wellington were great, but Canterbury were anything but.

Wellington scored the best T20 score in Rangiora, Canterbury replied with the worst.

The Firebirds 190-2 was always going to be tough on the 170-wicket, but few expected the Wizards - last year's beaten finalists - to be bowled out in the 19th over for just 133.

The match started poorly for the Wizards with a possible first-over runout resulting in four overthrows and the lucky batsman, Tamim Iqbal, going on to score 74.

Post-match, coach Gary Stead was fuming and the normally softly spoken former international was preparing to dish out a verbal slapping to his players, most of whom "didn't stand up".

Stead said a lack of confidence and experience played a part in the loss, but a lack of experience didn't hinder Wellington's Malaesaili Tugaga.

On his T20 debut, the 22-year-old took Wellington-best figures of 4-18, including a double wicket maiden, and removed the Wizards' top four.

"In Twenty20 you need two or three guys to step up and for them it was Tugaga, [Jesse] Ryder and Tamim Iqbal," Stead said.

"For us, I think Elly [Andrew Ellis, who scored 48] did a good job, but not in the same class as them, and we don't have any others that stood up today."

Stead said that was certain to be the theme of a heated post-match spray.

Earlier, Ryder and Iqbal put on 71 for the first wicket, including a six off Ryder's first ball on his way to a typically bullish 37. Iqbal and former Christchurch club player Ben Orton (37) added 77 for the next wicket.

Iqbal's 47-ball 74 was the Bangladeshi's best return for Wellington this season.

Then another familiar Canterbury face added the cream on top.

Michael Papps seemed a strange choice for coach Jamie Siddons to send out at No 4 with less than five overs to go, especially with the highly rated and in-form Luke Ronchi still to come.

But the move proved a masterstroke as Papps, better known for placement and timing than a power game, hit 32 off just 17 balls to help Wellington reach 190-2.

Canterbury took 20 overs to get two wickets, but lost three in their first four overs of their reply.

Stead said the poor first six overs were still a major concern, both with bat and ball.

Wellington reached 63-0 from theirs while Canterbury were already out of the contest after six overs, teetering at 29-3.

Wellington hit 12 boundaries in that time, Canterbury just one.

"It was disappointing all round for us today," Stead said.

"It's an area of concern for us, we need to stop them in the first six overs and do better there in our first six with the bat to give us momentum."

Meanwhile, while Canterbury had a poor day, they were still far better than Central Districts.

The last-placed team lost by a phenomenal 93 runs to the table-topping Otago side in Dunedin yesterday.

In reply to Otago's 194-4, CD were rolled in the 17th over for just 101.

Auckland picked up their third win of the competition, beating ND by 28 runs in Mt Maunganui.

The Press