Firebirds perform between the showers

Rain was a dominant factor before the Wellington Firebirds ran down a revised target to win their HRV Cup Twenty20 match by eight wickets against the Northern Knights in Mt Maunganui today.

The Knights had the worst of the elements when they batted first at Bay Oval, being forced from  the field three times while scoring 82 for four off 11.3 overs.

The last rain break left the Firebirds with a revised target of 90 off 11 overs, which they peeled off with four balls to spare thanks to young opener Michael Pollard and James Franklin.

Pollard finished on 43 not out of 31 balls, raising victory with a six off the second ball of the final over from Scott Styris, while Franklin cleared the boundary twice during his 16-ball unbeaten 27.

Only grizzled veteran Styris and Daniel Vettori got into their stride during the truncated Knights innings, with opener Vettori striking 26 off 21 balls with three fours before the first rain break came at 56 for four after nine overs.

Between the showers Styris returned twice more to the middle and slapped a rapid 20 not out off 11 balls, before the weather curtailed the innings.

The conditions meant Sri Lankan star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan’s brief stint with the Firebirds was a damp affair but the test great did well to take one for 26 off his three overs, meaning his four-match spell with the team from the capital rewarded him with six wickets for 87 runs off 14 overs.

Having earlier been reduced to a 16 overs-per-side contest the latest break saw the calculators used again to determine the Firebirds required a new target 90 off 11 overs at an asking rate of 8.2 an over.

The Knights bowlers helped give the Firebirds momentum in their chase, with seamers Tim Southee and Graeme Aldridge both delivering wides which went to the boundary during the early overs.

But Michael Papps and Brendan Taylor came and went cheaply before Pollard found an ally in the experienced  Franklin as they put on an unbroken stand of 58 for the third wicket off 36 balls.

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