Stags through to Super Smash finals
The final spot in the Twenty20 Super Smash finals belongs to the Central Stags.
With the Northern Knights getting home late to defeat the Canterbury Kings in Hamilton, Central’s 29-run winover the Wellington Firebirds in Wellington secured their finals spot.
The Stags join the Auckland Aces and Northern Knights in the finals. The Knights have home advantage.
With two games played simultaneously 500 kilometres apart, it had looked for much of the afternoon like Canterbury’s Kings would secure the last finals spot. But two English imports and a stunning Dean Brownlie display turned things.
Chasing 195 for victory, Wellington’s top scorer was Samit Patel, but his scoring rate put paid to any chance of a win.
Needing nearly 10 an over, Patel’s 38 came from 39 balls. He was hooking, cutting and pulling hard, but never showed the kind of invention that was required to find the gaps.
Tom Blundell did well early in the chase, scoring 30 from 19 balls, and Devon Conway scored 32 off 23 late on, but Wellington ended well short of the required target at 165-5 at the close.
Jesse Ryder and George Worker Central Stags 194-6 (J Ryder 52 off 35, T Bruce 46 off 20, G Worker 38 off 25; J Patel 2-23 off 4, O Newton 2-19 off 2) defeated the Wellington Firebirds 165-5 (S Patel 38 off 39, D Conway 32 off 23, T Blundell 30 off 19; B Wheeler 2-30 off 4, B Tickner 2-34 off 4) by 29 runs. Canterbury Kings 190-5 (C Bowes 38 off 19, M Pollard 32 off 24, L Carter 35 off 26, C Fletcher 32 off 15; I Sodhi 2-29 off 4) lost to the Northern Knights 191-6 (D Brownlie 86 off 50; C McConchie 2-26 off 3, K Jamieson 2-48 off 4) by four wickets. did the damage early for Central, hitting 52 and 38 respectively, before Tom Bruce blasted a 20-ball 46 as the Stags moved to 194-6 at stumps.
The Northern Knights claimed top spot and a home final when they beat the Canterbury Kings.
Batting first, the visitors made 190-5 and the hosts at Hamilton’s Seddon Park chased that down with four wickets and seven balls to spare after looking unlikely for three-quarters of their reply.
Dean Brownlie led the the chase after high-scoring opener Tim Seifert fell lbw first ball to Ed Nuttall. The Knights skipper made a punishing 86 off 50 balls but was caught on the long-off boundary attempting his fifth six in six deliveries as he turned the match.
English import Chris Jordan (22 off 10 balls) and Nick Kelly (27 off 13) completed the job.