The Wellington Firebirds were looking to maintain their unbeaten record as they prepared to host Canterbury at the Basin, but would the weather at the Basin Reserve play ball? After plenty of rain and lots of playing cards, a tense little 27-over game was finally on late in the afternoon.
How it happened
• Canterbury captain Peter Fulton predictably sent the Birds into bat, and he was quickly helped by a few batsmen getting themselves out. Stephen Murdoch was hideously run out on seven trying to scramble back to his crease when partner Tom Blundell was busy ball-watching, Blundell going on to a redemptive 38-ball 32 before he got caught behind after advancing up the deck to Logan van Beek.
• Scott Borthwick and Michael Pollard were a good pairing and started hitting out against the spinners to maximum effect, turning up the run rate for half a dozen overs and getting the Birds hundred on the board before Tim Johnston had Borthwick caught on 38.
• The loss of Borthwick on 38, however, only ushered in merciless striker Matt Taylor who blasted an unbeaten 44 off just 22 balls (two fours, three sixes, including one onto the road) to give the Birds the lift they needed at the death.
• In the chaos, Pollard fell caught on the boundary but they finished strongly on 166 for six from their 27. That set Canterbury a chase of slightly more than a run a ball, but more importantly pushing themselves onto firmer ground should the rain revisit.
• Canterbury opener Chad Bowes suffered a first ball duck in reply as he mistimed Hamish Bennett. Bennett would be involved in each of the four top wickets, quickly finding the edge of Fulton’s bat before also picking up Cole McConchie caught from his following over, Michael Papps assisting with some class grabs.
• At 12 for three Canterbury was on the back foot, but 20-year-old opener Jack Boyle continued his promising debut season by backing up his two forties with a gutsy maiden List A half century — his 50 flying from just 58 balls.
• At drinks, Canterbury needed exactly 100 off the last 13 overs and Boyle would reach 68 off 71 before Bennett had a hand in that one, too — by taking the catch in the deep off Anurag Verma.
• Both teams were feeling the heat in a tight contest but the skies were closing over, and another belt of rain in the 23rd over — when Canterbury was 123 for six — spelt the end. Duckworth-Lewis-Stern calculations were reinvoked, the chase formally reduced to 22.2 overs and the target revised to 134, meaning the Birds stayed unbeaten (just one point behind leaders the Aces) while Canterbury is mid-table with just one victory.
Canterbury debutant Harry Chamberlain was left unbeaten on four, while Bennett finished with mint figures of three for nine off his four overs. Canterbury hosts the Aces in Rangiora on Saturday while the Birds fly to Whangarei to meet ND at Cobham Oval.