Young Northerners seal the deal as Canterbury take another hit

Emerging stars do it again for Knights

Round 5 Ford Trophy: Canterbury 346/7 (Diamanti 56, Ellis 31, Astle 62 not out; Kuggeleijn 3-44) lost to SKYCITY Northern Knights 249/6 in 46.5 overs (Brownlie 33, Mitchell 54, Santner 73; van Beek 3-53) by four wickets at Mainpower Oval, Rangiora

The SKYCITY Northern Knights dealt another blow to Canterbury’s rocky Ford Trophy campaign after defeating the hosts by four wickets in Rangiora to stay in the race for a Finals berth.

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Urgently needing a win with just four regular season games in hand, fifth-placed Canterbury were quickly on the back foot in Rangiora, their top order stumbling to 70/4 by the 17th over after captain Peter Fulton had won the toss and batted in sunny conditions.

Knights paceman Scott Kuggeleijn inflicted the major damage, sitting on a split hat-trick after bowling Ronnie Hira on the last ball of the seventh over, then bowling Hira’s in-form opening partner Henry Nicholls with his first ball of the ninth.

Kuggeleijn was also the chief culprit as the Knights conceded 10 extras in the front nine overs, allowing Canterbury to be 39/2 after 10. However, he atoned by striking again with the first ball of the 11th over to remove Neil Broom cheaply — a wicket maiden that saw the young Hamiltonian end with an impressive 3-22 off his first spell of six overs.
Anurag Verma followed up with a wicket maiden of his own in the 17th over, accounting for Fulton and putting further pressure on Canterbury. But the hosts did well to rally to 246/7, thanks to a 68-run stand between Brendon Diamanti (56) and Andy Ellis that was followed up by a feisty, unbeaten 62 from Todd Astle — who blitzed 11 boundaries in the closing stages. His timely 50 came off just 37 balls, his third half-century on the trot.

Needing 4.94 an over, the Knights were off to an aggressive beginning — until Logan van Beek followed up Matt Henry’s dismissal of Anton Devcich with three big quick wickets to put Canterbury back in with a chance.

Emerging young stars remove big names from record books

However, the Knights’ young brigade stood up again, middle order bat Daryl Mitchell (54) passing 50 for the third game in succession and emerging all-round star Mitchell Santner top-scoring with a confident 73 (after scores of 86, 5, 45 in the previous rounds). Their 110-run stand was a new Knights record for the fifth wicket against Canterbury, beating the mark of 109 set by Graeme Hick & Lance Cairns at the same ground back in the 1987/88 season.

By the time leg spinner Todd Astle broke their partnership — bowling Mitchell for 54 before taking out Santner as well 11 balls later, the chase was largely already secured, the Knights requiring their last  37 runs from 51 balls. Tim Seifert and Kuggeleijn finished it off, Kuggeleijn completing a good day at the office by blasting two sixes off Astle before hitting a boundary off van Beek to claim the win with 3.1 overs to spare.

Round five concludes at the Basin Reserve tomorrow, where defending champions the Wellington Firebirds will be hoping for their first win, against the SBS Bank Otago Volts.

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