Northern Knights bemused by their shock defeat
The sizeable crowd at Mt Maunganui weren't the only ones baffled by the Northern Knights' Twenty20 loss to the Canterbury Wizards yesterday.
Knights captain Daniel Flynn also struggled to explain how his side hadn't managed to win a match they looked certain to at the midway stage.
An excellent bowling effort restricted the visitors to 125-7 off 20 overs but the Knights fell 12 runs short of victory, finishing at 114-7.
"The bowling performance was spot on, but obviously we didn't quite get there in the end," said a bemused Flynn.
"It's a bit puzzling at the moment - we'll have to go away and have a think about it."
The Knights got off to a rapid start in their chase but suffered a double setback in the third over when Hamish Bennett picked up the wickets of openers Anton 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.
But wickets fell and the run-rate climbed to more than 10 an over as the heavy hitters in the middle order couldn't find the boundary.
"Credit to them, they bowled well and adapted to the conditions," Flynn said as the Wizards prospered on a track that proved tricky to score quickly on.
"It was holding up a bit - you could tell by the way the spinners were bowling just how crucial they were and how difficult they were to get away.
"We couldn't get any momentum and lost wickets at crucial times and unfortunately paid the price."
Bennett took 2-18 from four impressive overs, left-arm spinner Roneel Hira took 1-18 from four as Northern laboured after the low target and Andrew Ellis picked up 3-23 from three.
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.
"We've still got four games left and have another one here on Saturday where we can adapt to the conditions," Flynn said of the upcoming match against Wellington at the same Bay Oval venue.
Canterbury skipper Peter Fulton won the toss and chose to bat but the opening over proved disastrous for the visitors as left-arm spinner Devcich bowled Rob Nicol first ball and had Dean Brownlie caught and bowled off the fifth ball.
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 one, after it appeared he'd been caught off Scott Styris, only for it to be ruled a bump ball.
Trent 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. Ish 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.
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.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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