Knights stay top of table despite poor show
The Northern Knights squandered an ideal opportunity to win their fourth consecutive HRV Cup match in Hamilton last night.
The competition leaders, who have played all their games to date at their home venue, had the Otago Volts on the ropes in the early stages of the Twenty20 encounter.
But the visitors fought back to register a handy tally of 173-7 off their 20 overs and the Knights couldn’t chase it down, finishing on 162-8 despite a late flourish from Tim Southee (21 off 10 balls) and BthJ Watling (35 from 17 balls).
The match was a reversal of the first match of the season at Seddon Park between the same two combatants, when the SkyCity Knights worked their way out of a major hole to grab the win.
The result left the Knights still top of the table on 12 points, having played one more match than the second-placed Wellington Firebirds on eight, while defending champions Auckland Aces have played only one game for one win.
The Knights used Black Caps batsman Kane Williamson as an opener but the move misfired as he fell for four in the first over.
Knights left-hander Anton Devcich had three lives during his 28, surviving a huge caught behind appeal off Jacob Duffy in the second over and then opposing captain Sam Wells somehow contrived to drop a gobber soon after when Devcich was on 4.
When on 27, he skied one off Ian Butler but Neil Wagner – who took 3-41 from four overs – failed to haul in the catch.
Import Steven Croft, who shone for the Knights in their three previous outings, made 30 off 30 balls but skipper Scott Styris made a duck and Black Cap Daniel Flynn made one as left-arm spinner Nick Beard took 3-26 off his four overs.
Otago looked to have little hope at 41-4 in the ninth over, and their tally owed plenty to Ryan ten Doeschate, who top-scored with a classy 65 off 45 balls, featuring five fours and two sixes.
The visitors won the toss and chose to bat in ideal conditions but lost opener Aaron Redmond in the first over the next ball after hitting Devcich for six.
Fellow opener Hamish Rutherford was needlessly run out in the third over and when Tim Southee snared the wicket of Neil Broom with his second ball, the Volts were in a horrible pickle at 15 for three in the fourth over.
They later slumped to 41-4 before imported allrounder ten Doeschate and Michael Bracewell produced a salvage act.
Dutch international ten Doeschate, who arrived in the country on Thursday, showed his vast experience in the short format with a nicely paced knock.
Bracewell romped to 31 off only 20 balls before he slashed a full toss from Knights skipper Scott Styris to Brad Wilson at extra cover as the duo added 66 for the fifth wicket in just 6.3 overs to give Otago some desperately needed momentum.
James Fuller capped off a remarkable recovery by smashing 27 off 11 balls, as the final over from Southee gave up 17 runs.
The Knights will also have the services of four Black Caps test players for their fifth round Plunket Shield match against the Wellington Firebirds starting in the capital on Monday.
Southee, Williamson, Flynn and Watling are part of the defending champion Knights squad who will be chasing their first win of the 2012/13 campaign.
Former New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori remains unavailable through injury while Trent Boult and Corey Anderson are in South Africa with the national side
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