Career best five-for in a strong all-round game for Jimmy Neesham | PHOTOSPORT

Searing career best for Jimmy Neesham




• Basin Reserve, Wellington


A miserly five-wicket bag for Jimmy Neesham proved invaluable in a tight home win for the Firebirds.
Canterbury captain Andrew Ellis had opted to bat first at the Basin but, despite a healthy start from Henry Nicholls (62) and Chad Bowes (47) in a century stand for the first wicket, the arrival of first change Neesham at the bowling crease for his second spell changed the complexion of the innings.

Striking with his third delivery, Neesham removed both batsmen in consecutive overs, then routed the middle order for his career-best return of 5-19 off 10 overs, including two wicket maidens and three maidens in all.

A late 47 from the Canterbury skipper and classy rearguard 73 from his ally Cam Fletcher helped Canterbury dig their way out of a hole from 136/5, batting out their 50 overs to reach 267/7.

A century stand between first drop Devon Conway (59) and opener Andrew Fletcher (71) ensured the Firebirds stayed on track through the first half of the chase, however, before captain Michael Bracewell took over from Conway.

Sharing an unbroken 82*-stand with Neesham (37* off 32), the cool-headed Bracewell saw his side home with almost two overs to spare with his run-a-ball 81 not out.

The Firebirds now host Canterbury on Saturday at the same ground, while the Stags will host the Aces on Sunday at New Plymouth's Pukekura Park. Northern Districts will head south to meet the Otago Volts at University of Otago Oval, also on Sunday, with the pressure on all sides to secure a top-three placing before time runs out.

All of Sunday's losing sides struck back today with much needed Ford Trophy wins in the seventh round of a tight 10-round one-day regular season, the Auckland Aces moving back into the lead over Canterbury at the top of the table.

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