SUNDAY 26 JANUARY 2020
WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS lost to NORTHERN DISTRICTS by one wicket
• Basin Reserve, Wellington
Devon Conway can't stop scoring runs, posting his first Ford Trophy hundred at his home ground to make it a century in each format for the Firebirds this summer - just the third batsman, after Hamish Marshall and Glenn Phillips - to do so in one New Zealand cricket season.
Conway's 138 off 113 balls, including a dozen boundaries and four sixes, was his maiden List A hundred for the Firebirds and seventh of his overall career, having produced his previous half dozen in South Africa.
However, it wasn't destined to be the Firebirds' days as a nail-biter went the way of the opposition at the Basin Reserve.
Having been sent in by Northern Districts skipper Joe Carter, Conway's cruise control helped lift an otherwise cautious early approach by the hosts, captain Michael Bracewell providing 38 in support in a 90-run stand for the third wicket to get the match humming.
It was an important contribution, too, given that ND had got on top early: Anurag Verma picked up both opening batsmen to have the Firebirds 49 for two in the 18th.
Having arrived in the middle in the 12th over, Conway was just getting going when he lost partner Jacob Bhula - but he then took control of the innings until the death, when Verma (4-62) struck yet again.
After the loss of Bracewell, wickets had tumbled regularly through the back 15 overs, Brett Hampton striking twice in an over to remove allrounders Fraser Colson and Jamie Gibson in quick succession.
Verma then picked up Lauchie Johns a few balls later to put the brakes on Wellington who ultimately scrambled through to 265 for eight in their 50 overs.
Despite crashing to 48 for three in reply - with Katene Clarke, Carter and BJ Watling (run out without scoring) all back in the hutch, Anton Devcich kept his head with a steadying knock of 44 to get ND to almost halfway.
He shared a 77-run stand with Henry Cooper before Cooper kicked on to an 88-run stand for the fifth with Peter Bocock (47 off 41), Cooper top-scoring for ND with 88 off 104 deliveries (11 boundaries, two sixes).
It was a career best effort from Northland's Cooper who took the side to 213/4 before he was caught off Ian McPeake in the 39th over.
McPeake (4-51) had already taken care of Devcich and would add Bocock and Joe Walker in quick succession, to have ND seven down at the close of the 43rd and 37 runs still required off the last 42 balls.
ND continued to lose wickets, but the key one at the death eluded them as Brett Hampton an unbeaten 29* to clinch a close contest with just one wicket and two balls to spare.