Two tons, two runs and one big wicket in a tight finish. What. A. Game.
How it happened
• After a rain-delayed start, Canterbury skipper Andrew Ellis opted to bat and, despite the near immediate loss of Chad Bowes to the devastating Kuggeleijn in an opening wicket maiden (he would go on to a fine 3-29 off his 10), find of the season Jack Boyle (patiently contributing 43, and now among the top 10 run-makers in his debut campaign) and resplendent Henry Nicholls took the hosts at Hagley to 115/1 by the halfway mark.
• The dominant Nicholls, out to prove a point to the BLACKCAPS selectors, reached his 50 in the 20th over, but Boyle lost out on 43 to an Ish Sodhi wrong ’un in the 26th: a wicket maiden for Sodhi.
• Joined by Peter Fulton, Nicholls was on 67, and would be joined by Todd Astle by the time he’d reached 78, guiding his side through a tricky and lean period against the ND spin attack to their most biting.
• Despite all this, Nicholls galloped to his second List A century — in his 50th List A appearance — off just 98 balls, but immediately lost more partners before and after the milestone in Astle, who became Henry Cooper’s maiden wicket, and Ellis, Canterbury in a still uncertain position at 163 for five in the 36th over, now.
• Nicholls was doing it all by himself, and would score more than half of Canterbury’s eventual total of 275 for seven even with useful late hands of 28* off 20 from Cole McConchie and 27* off 13 from Tim Johnston, the pair ladelling on quick runs at the end after Nicholl’s dismissal on 140 (125 balls) in the 47th over.
• Northern Districts was being led by yet another new captain this season in Jono Boult, after Dean Brownlie had been called away to the BLACKCAPS ODI squad in Napier. ND’s chase didn’t begin well, under a ton of pressure at 98 for five after 24 overs. Bharat Popli had got a start for the first time in the comp with 39 before he was trapped by spinner Johnston, then centurion of the previous match Nick Kelly went to the same bowler on 30.
• Kuggeleijn’s quick exit made it three for Johnston all of a sudden, but Daryl Mitchell stuck around for a run-a-ball 57 and, moreover, gave Tim Seifert someone to bat around.
• Seifert (above) was near unstoppable, at his square-smashing belligerent best as the young keeper-batsman blasted his way to a maiden List A and Ford Trophy century off just 85 balls, his sixth-wicket stand with Mitchell ballooning to 104.
• By the tme Mitchell was caught off Astle in the 41st over, ND was firmly back in the game needing just 74 from the back nine overs. Seifert kept going, but the wicket of Mitchell created a domino effect at the other end.
• By the last over, the visitors were nine down — but now, with just three balls to go, they needed only three to win. Seifert grabbed the strike but his maiden century salvage job would end in despair as he lost his wicket caught behind off Logan van Beek, handing Canterbury a thrilling, and important, victory by just two runs.
The win kept Canterbury in a favourable fourth on the table, heading off to Auckland’s Colin Maiden Park to face the Aces on Saturday. ND meanwhile heads to Pukekura Park where the Central Stags’ season will be on the line.