Knights are first-time HRV Twenty20 champions

Knights are first-time HRV Twenty20 champions

Otago Volts 143-5 (Neil Broom 44, ten Doeschate 36; Styris 4-0-16-1) lost to the SKYCITY Northern Knights 144-5 (Mitchell 46, Watling 37; McMillan 4-0-23-1, Holder 4-0-38-2) by five wickets.

On a postcard-perfect evening at Seddon Park, the SKYCITY Northern Knights broke their HRV Twenty20 hoodoo to become first time champions, defeating defending champions the Otago Volts with an over to spare.

The evening went to plan initially for the Volts, with skipper Derek de Boorder winning the toss and wasting no time in choosing to bat. However, on a slower surface, his batsmen struggled to time their shots to full effect against a disciplined bowling attack backed up by the Knights’ trademark attacking fielding.

Having survived, by a sliver, a Jono Boult run out chance to the non-striker’s when on 15, Hamish Rutherford was not so fortunate when a flat bounce throw from Brad Wilson to bowler Scott Styris caught him ball-watching, breaking the 40-run opening stand in the 6th over. The Knights’ tight grip in the circle held the Volts to a start that was more steady than spectacular - notwithstanding a huge straight slog from Rutherford off Scott Kuggeleijn both posted the first six of the innings and lost the first ball.

When Aaron Redmond miscued leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who revealed a fresh pace through the air, to gift Boult a catch, the scoring rate dimmed to run-a-ball: with the halfway mark looming it was the cue to up the ante. Sweeping Sodhi and driving Boult for sixes, the crisp Neil Broom looked a dangerous pairing with Ryan ten Doeschate, but again the Knights made timely strikes before partnerships got too out of hand - Broom caught at long on by Daryl Mitchell, new Volts pro Jason Holder awkwardly bowled next over trying to prod Kuggeleijn away and Mitchell swooping to grab his second outfield catch to remove ten Doeschate in the 16th - giving Styris, who was a standout with 1-16 off four, his well-deserved wicket.

Set a chase of just over seven an over, the Knights knew they had to respect the pace of the wicket in a classically low-scoring Final: the nerves weren’t over yet, with Holder the new card in the bowling mix. The tall West Indian startled them with a double breakthrough in his first over, both aggressive openers - Flynn and Devcich, tempted into fatal pull shots from short deliveries - then the top order carnage was extended when senior paceman James McMillan shattered Brad Wilson’s stumps, bringing together Daryl Mitchell and BJ Watling in just the fourth over at 24-3.

The pair steadied the chase with a 57-run stand after Watling, on eight, survived pelting a lolly of a catch direct to Holder at long-on, which he fluffed. Still needing little more than seven an over, the introduction of Jacob Duffy in the 12th over finally removed Watling as Bracewell rolled into a fine outfield take. Captain Derek de Boorder missed a gimme caught behind from Styris off McMillan when the dangerman was on zero, desperately lobbing the ball up before failing to glove it a second time.

Needing 51 runs from 30, Mitchell greeted the return of Holder by booming a full toss for a handsome six, matched by Styris in the same over, but the Volts dealt the Knights a big, nerve-wracking blow when ten Doeschate had Styris caught for just 11. Mitchell and Kuggeleijn were left with the task of finding 30 runs from the last three overs but Duffy, whose earlier two overs had cost just four runs, found his marginally errant length punished as Kuggeleijn took 12 runs from three balls to halve the equation to 15 runs off the last two. Mitchell produced an inventive flick to fine leg for a crucial boundary before Kuggeleijn hit the winning six off Holder to wrap it up with six balls to spare.






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