Nick Kelly has saved the day for the Northern Knights, helping his side escape a dire situation to beat the Central Stags by 2 wickets in Hamilton.
Despite his inexperience, Nick Kelly remained composed despite the Knights run chase crumbling late in the match thanks to some woeful decision making by other Knights batsmen.
Kelly chanced his arms and brought his side home with a fantastic knock of 36 off 16 deliveries, sealing the victory with a six in the final over.
Despite the win, the Knights nearly blew what had earlier appeared to be a walk in after Anton Devcich continued his rich run of form.
Chasing 171 for the victory, Devcich notched his 10th first-class twenty20 half century, steering the Knights towards home with a display of batting that included aggression and control.
Central Stags import Mahela Jayawardena earlier struck an aggressive knock of 76 runs off just 52 deliveries to set a strong total on a pitch that was seeing the ball do things off the bounce.
The full story:
Mahela Jayawardena showed every bit of class that has made him become a great of Sri Lankan cricket, showing controlled aggression early.
Jayawardena formed a 50-run partnership with Josh Clarkson, helped the Stags to a launching platform late in the innings.
Ish Sodhi broke through when Clarkson was caught for 31, finishing a tidy spell of bowling for the Knights spinner.
Jayawardena was dismissed moments later after finding the top edge, allowing an easy catch for Tim Seifert.
Dane Cleaver looked to finish strongly for the Stags, smashing a quick fire 18 before being clean bowled by Scott Kuggeleign.
The Stags posted 170 runs for the loss of 6 wickets from their 20 overs.
Daniel Flynn struck two boundaries, utilizing the fast pace of Adam Milne, but the Stags quick had the last laugh, delivering a beauty to clean bowl the Knights captain.
Irish import Kevin O’Brien looked dangerous for the Knights but was furious with himself when he cut the ball straight to a Stags fieldsman.
Blackcap and power hitter Corey Anderson slightly leveled the ship for the Knights with some quick boundaries but was dismissed trying to play one aggressive shot too many.
Devcich continued his rich run of form, keeping the run rate comfortable and bringing up his 10th first-class T20 half century.
Under pressure to perform, Daryl Mitchell struck a brilliant straight drive for six.
When Mitchell and Devcich both departed late, the Knights were in deep trouble.
Nick Kelly, in just his fourth match, remained calm and found the boundaries, but he was losing men around him.
Seth Rance took the match down to the wire with his second wicket of the night.
Kelly struck a six in the final over to win the match for the Knights.
Key stories from the match:
- Northern Knights won toss & chose to bowl first.
- Northern Knights quick and Dutch import Tim van der Gugten goes for 24 off first over bowled.
- Mahela Jayawardena reaches 50 (29th First Class T20 half century)
- Central Stags reach 100 runs from 12 overs.
- Partnership between Mahela Jayawardena and Josh Clarkson goes past 50.
- Central Stags post 170 runs.
- Northern Knights scrap as the RRPO remains at 8.
Northern Knights reach 100 off 11 overs.
- Anton Devcich reaches 50 (10th First Class T20 half century)
- Nick Kelly scores 36 off 16 balls.
- Northern Knights win by 2 wickets.