SKYCITY Northern Knights 232-9 (Brad Wilson 68, BJ Watling 50, Brent Arnel 3-30) lost to the Tulsi Wellington Firebirds 233-6 after 49.2 overs (James Franklin 75, Michael Pollard 43, Luke Ronchi 41*) by four wickets
The Tulsi Wellington Firebirds are the Ford Trophy champions after beating the SKY CITY Northern Knights by four wickets In a thrilling final over.
Batting first, the Knights looked strong during the middle stages of their innings, but fell apart towards the end to post 232 for nine. Firebird’s captain James Franklin took responsibility for his side’s chase with a knock of 75, but it was Luke Ronchi who saw his side across the line with some crucial late hitting.
Needing eight from the final over, Ronchi hit consecutive boundaries off the first two balls to give the Firebirds their first piece of silverware in 10 years and their first Ford Trophy title in 12 years.
Having won the toss and opted to bat, the Knights got off to a slow start due to some tight bowling from the Firebirds opening pair of Brent Arnel and Mark Gillespie. Matters compounded for the home side, losing Anton Devcich and Daniel Flynn early to be 20 for two.
That brought together the experienced duo of Brad Wilson (68) and BJ Watling (50), who proceeded to put on a 104 run partnership for the third wicket. They set a platform that looked like it would propel the Knights to a total in excess of 250, but the dismissals of both established batsmen halted their momentum.
The middle-order pair of Daryl Mitchell (30) and Mitchell Santner (44) made handy contributions, but when it came time to accelerate the Knights lost wickets in clumps.
Five wickets fell for 22 runs to end the innings, with Brent Arnel (3-30) and Mark Gillespie (3-46) doing the bulk of the damage with the ball.
The pursuit from the Firebirds lacked a considerable partnership early on, but featured a number of starts from the top-order. Pollard in particular made inroads, making 43 from 79 balls before being trapped lbw by returning BLACKCAPS player Trent Boult.
They key figure in the Firebirds innings though was Franklin. The skipper anchored his side right through until the 48th over, putting a crucial 50 run stand with Ronchi for the sixth wicket. However, needing just 17 further runs for victory, Franklin was caught in the deep off Jono Boult, ensuring a nail-biting finish.
Ronchi, fresh off the plane from Bangladesh, would be the Firebird’s saviour, whacking an unbeaten 41 from 31 balls. The 34-year-old then found the leg-side boundary twice in a row to send his side into wild celebrations.
The Firebirds join the Knights (HRV Twenty20) and Canterbury Wizards (Plunket Shield) as a victor of the three domestic competitions.