Wow! Two thrilling finishes in the space of two games has T20 fans gripped. When the Kings and Firebirds clashed for the first time at Hagley Oval, the match went right down to the wire — in fact, the scores were tied after their 20 overs each so the contest had to be settled with a high pressure super over!
The Kings had made 166/5 after being sent in by Firebirds captain Hamish Marshall, BLACKCAP Henry Nicholls leading the assault with a career-best unbeaten 66 off just 40 balls, all the homes batsman contributing with a healthy strike rate against a capital line-up featuring the return of their exciting import Jade Dernbach and Australian Evan Gulbis alongside the likes of big-hitting BLACKCAP Luke Ronchi and everyone’s crowd favourite Grant Elliott.
It was a batsman’s game to begin with, but when Marshall and Stephen Murdoch both fell early — BLACKCAP Matt Henry, back for the Kings, having a hand in both wickets — it looked like the Kings’ attack might rewrite that script.
33/2 became 49/3 when Jeremy Benton picked up his vastly experienced senior Michael Papps, but Elliott and Ronchi didn’t just steady the ship, they launched a few cannon balls with quick, destructive knocks that would prove so important as the scores drew close.
Elliott punched 30 off 28 while Ronchi slammed three consecutive sixes in his pivotal unbeaten 58 off 31. The Firebirds had needed 20 off Andy Ellis’s the final over yet the Firebirds got up at the death, helped not by their damaging keeper-batsman but Luke Woodcock, who murdered 17 runs off six balls, including two off a no ball as the Kings lost the plot, despite some very sharp outfielding from Tom Latham.
Latham would get the chance to put theing right for his team, but first it was the Firebirds’ turn to bat in the last-chance super over against quick Ed Nuttall, two quick runouts upping the pressure not just to defend a tough five runs, but to take more wickets now, if need be, in just the one set of six left.
Now it was the Kings’ turn to face one over — legend Jeetan Patel taking the white ball in his grip. The wily spinner made the perfect start by trapping Chad Bowes first ball, but it was disaster for the Firebirds when a wide ran away for five to level the scores. Now the Firebirds needed two wickets, but Latham gave them no opportunity as he coolly pumped Patel's third ball to the boundary to give the Kings their first win from three starts, the Firebirds now the only team still looking to get on the board.