Wellington Firebirds 110 (James Franklin 35, Andy Ellis 5-14) lost to Canterbury Kings 114-5 in 19.1 overs (Peter Fulton 45, Aiden Blizzard 29, Luke Woodcock 2-17) by five wickets.
The Canterbury Kings bolstered their lead on the points table after the Wellington Firebirds failed to fire on a stunning Seddon Park Saturday.
Batting first after winning the toss, the winless Wellingtonians’ woes began in the first over when Michael Pollard lobbed a dolly straight to Logan van Beek in the outfield. Two overs later, when Michael Papps slammed a catch to point — brilliantly taken by Cole McConchie, it cemented an impressive start by the Kings.
Their attack never took their foot off the Firebirds’ throats. Even when Tom Blundell was dropped at third man off Andy Ellis, the Kings’ steady henchman made sure he had Stephen Murdoch caught next ball. Ellis returned at the death to cash in on a Firebirds line-up that was burning to lift their tame run rate — which hadn’t cracked better than run-a-ball pace throughout their innings.
Ellis had the dangerous Grant Elliott caught off the first ball of the 15th; struck again in his third over with Matt Taylor’s cheap exit and then made a double strike in the 19th over to land the first five-wicket bag of the 2014 Georgie Pie Super Smash: an outstanding 5-14.
Despite a fast outfield and fine conditions, skipper James Franklin was the only Firebird who looked to threaten in their light tally of 110-9. He blasted back-to-back sixes off Ronnie Hira, but was left kicking himself when he got out in the 18th over — caught off Matt Henry on 35, just as he needed to reach for a booming finish.
While the target hardly seemed a challenge on paper, the Kings were nevertheless made to work for their win by Franklin’s wily captaincy. Mirroring the way the first innings had started, the Kings were 1-1 after the first over, a scoreless Hira caught and bowled by Jeet Patel.
The Firebirds couldn’t afford to miss a beat, however, chances went begging. There was a valiant aerial attempt to catch Blizzard, but when Arnel vented his frustration with a bouncer next ball, it flew off the batsman’s helmet for four leg byes. The Kings were 25-2 when the ball jagged back on Broom at the end of that sixth over, but Blizzard was again let off the hook when he set off for a seemingly suicidal second run without being run out.
Peter Fulton, meanwhile, rocked back on his heels to pelt Luke Woodcock into the bank. Once the Kings’ captain was away, even two wickets in Woodcock’s fourth over couldn’t stop them from picking off their target with almost an over to spare, Fulton unbeaten on 45.