Nicol, Latham nail it for Wizards

A three-pronged batting assault ensured the Canterbury Wizards stayed on a winning roll in the HRV Cup Twenty20 competition today.

Half-centuries to opener Rob Nicol and Twenty20 debutant Tom Latham were iced by a belligerent 30 not out off nine balls from veteran Brendon Diamanti  as the Wizards registered their fourth victory in seven outings.

They beat the Central Stags by four wickets with nine balls to spare at Rangiora’s MainPower Oval to remain second on the standings, four points adrift of the Auckland Aces.

Chasing the Stags’ competitive 188 for four, Nicol made 52 off 30 balls while Latham, who has already impressed in the Plunket Shield and one-day formats, cleared the boundary ropes five times  in a rollicking 31-ball ball 53 that kept his side ahead of the asking rate.

Nicol’s dismissal in the 15th over, when bowled by fast bowler Doug Bracewell after reaching his sixth Twenty20 half-century, gave the Stags a sniff but Latham and Diamanti ensured the Wizards had nothing to worry about, particularly the latter, who struck five boundaries off the nine balls he faced.

Young quick Adam Milne was the most successful of the Stags bowlers but his three wickets did cost 42 runs as the charge went on in the latter stages.

Earlier, the visitors did their bit to ensure an entertaining contest as former international Mathew Sinclair led the way with an unbeaten 68 off 56 balls to register his ninth Twenty20 half-century.

Sinclair was content to keep the ball along the carpet, striking eight fours, as distinct to Ross Taylor, who was happy to look skywards in making 31 off 18, a cameo featuring three sixes before he was bowled by offspinner Nicol in the 12th over.

Bracewell was equally forthright in making an unbeaten 36 off 17, with three sixes and two fours as he helped put on an unbroken stand of 64 for the fifth wicket with Sinclair.

Nicol and fast merchant Mitchell Claydon were the best of the Wizards attack, Nicol ending with figures of one for 33 off his four overs while Claydon went wicketless but gave up just 19 runs from his three overs.

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