With only the top three teams to go through to the Burger King Super Smash finals, the Canterbury Kings clinched a valuable mid-table victory over the Wellington Firebirds today to overtake the defending champs for third spot.
It’s still anyone’s game in the final two rounds — only the Otago Volts are out of contention; but handing out a sound, 62-run drubbing may be just what the Kings needed to get their momentum humming for the race home.
All the more impressive was that the Kings managed to do it while defending a middling total of 150 for eight at Hagley Oval, mainly thanks to left-arm quick Ed Nuttall (3-13) ripping through Luke Ronchi, Tom Blundell and Luke Woodcock for the cost of just two runs altogether from the more than useful trio.
Earlier, Chad Bowes had been top scorer for the Kings with his fast 41, and Cam Fletcher (26 off 14) again stepped up for them at the death to boom the late bombs.
In between, however, partnerships were severely restricted by the Firebirds and the majority of home batsmen permitted only starts as Kingsman-turned-Firebird Logan van Beek relished being back on his old turf.
Van Beek (below) claimed three for 15 off his four overs, his best haul yet in the Burger King Super Smash, beginning with an early wicket in his first over.
Spinners Samit Patel, Jeetan Patel (below) and Woodcock then chipped out wickets through the middle before a final burst of pace helped keep the total in check.
The Kings got off to an even better start with the ball however, Nuttall blasting out Ronchi and Blundell just three balls into the chase, Blundell’s off-stump sent flying.
All out for 88 in just 14.5 overs, the Firebirds will want to quickly obliterate this one from their collective memory while the Kings will head into their big away match against the Auckland Aces on Wednesday heartened by the successful return of tall pace bowler Kyle Jamieson who claimed a career best 3-32 in his comeback appearance.
The Firebirds meanwhile have the best part of a week to dust themselves off in time to go up against the Central Stags at Pukekura Park on Friday.