Superb bowling has seen the Knights cruise to a dominant victory over the Firebirds after the defending GPSS champions imploded and fell to New Zealand’s lowest total in T20 cricket chasing their target.
Ish Sodhi took three wickets in a dominant Knights bowling performance that had the Wellington batsmen heading back to the pavilion on regular occasion.
Anton Devcich was dominant with the bat, but Scott Kuggeleign and Ish Sodhi were big standouts with the ball, the two young Knights bowlers leaders taking five wickets between them.
Spinner Jono Boult also chipped in with the ball, snaring 2 wickets.
In one of his finest performances with the bat in T20 cricket, Anton Devcich batted with both aggression and poise on his way to 66-runs with the bat. At the beginning of his innings, Devcich played his typical style of hit out or get out, finding the boundaries on regular occasion.
When the run rate set, and with help from Dean Brownlie and Kevin O’Brien who both struck the ball crisply, Devcich was able to wait for the right deliveries.
Devcich notched his eighth domestic T20 half century on his way to 66, helping the Knights set the Firebirds a target of 185 in cold conditions.
The Firebirds ultimately never came close in their run chase, Devcich snared himself two wickets with his orthodox spin, and Scott Kuggeleign came within an inch of getting a hat trick after ripping through the Firebirds middle order in his second over.
But it was Ish Sodhi who starred for the Knights, taking three wickets to clean up the Firebirds lower order and hand his team a dominant 112-run victory.
The First Innings:
The Knights scored quick runs to start their innings, firstly through Daniel Flynn who hooked two shots for six. Anton Devcich continued to power on after Flynn was dismissed, finding the boundaries and the embankment with his typical hit out or get out approach.
Dean Brownlie followed suit, smashing two gigantic sixes off the spin bowling of Luke Woodcock, and the Knights were in a great position at 68/1 from their first seven overs.
Devcich and Brownlie batted their partnership past 50, giving the Knights the perfect platform to kick on in the last ten overs.
Jeeten Patel broke the partnership for the Firebirds, Brownlie departed for a well-rounded knock of 22. As the Knights brought up their century, Devcich was being troubled by Patel’s spin and was relieved when the spell came to an end.
Devcich brought up his eighth domestic T20 half century in the next over.
The Firebirds bowlers pulled the run rate back, forcing Irish import Kevin O’Brien to take risks and flirt with his own wicket, but it paid off with two big sixes in the space of an over.
O’Brien raced to 29 thanks to clearing the fence and finding the boundaries, Luke Woodcock again being the Firebirds bowler to leak runs. Woodcock ended his spell, going for a total of 51 runs.
O’Brien was slogging sixes with ease, forcing the Firebirds bowlers to bowl some erratic lines, including a shocking over by Brent Arnel that included three wide deliveries.
Devcich’s brilliant knock of 66 came to an end when he found the hands of the fielder on the ring, leaving Corey Anderson little over three overs to make an impact in his first match back since injury.
O’Brien’s aggressive knock was ended pre maturely when he also found the fielder as he looked to kick on.
The Knights ended their innings with a score of 184 for the loss of four wickets, Daryl Mitchell ending in style with a scoop six to leave the Firebirds a total of 185 to win.
The Second Innings:
The Firebirds run chase got off to the worst possible start when the Knights snared two early wickets; Anton Devcich continuing his good night when he managed to nab himself both wickets.
In all sorts of trouble at 11/2, the experienced pairing of Stephen Murdoch and Craig Cachopa needed to settle in and kick on. But they didn’t, Cachopa was deceived trying to cut the ball and found the thick edge, handing Scott Kuggeleijn a wicket.
Kuggeleijn struck on the very next delivery, clean bowling Tom Blundell, and very nearly got a hat trick, narrowly missing the stumps after bowling the near-perfect yorker.
Wellington required a further 170 runs to win, but were in deep trouble at 14/4.
Poor bowling from Aussie import Ben Laughlin saw the Firebirds put 21-runs on the board in one over, keeping the Firebirds within a sniff of forcing the issue through the middle of the innings.
Jono Boult saw the back of Murdoch, ripping the spin and rattling the stumps to give the Knights a crucial wicket just as the Firebirds comeback began to take shape.
Ish Sodhi took two wickets in a row, becoming the second Knights bowler to get on a hat trick, but like Kuggelign, couldn’t get the elusive third scalp. But the match was safe, Wellington were 62/8 and had no prayer of victory.
Sodhi took another wicket, his fourth of the night, and the game was over shortly after.
Key stories from the match:
- Firebirds win toss and chose to bowl first.
- Anton Devcich & Dean Brownlie partnership goes past 50.
- Anton Devcich scores eighth domestic T20 half century.
- Luke Woodcock goes for 51 runs in spell.
- Anton Devcich and Kevin O’Brien partnership goes past 50.
- Anton Devcich dismissed for 66.
- Northern Knights finish of 154 from their 20 overs.
- Firebirds lose 4 early wickets, Scott Kuggeleijn narrowly misses out on hat trick.
- Anton Devcich takes 2 wickets.
- Ben Laughlin goes for 21 runs in one over.
- Ish Sodhi takes 4 wickets, narrowly misses out on hat trick.
- Northern Knights win by 112 runs.