Devon Hotel Central Stags 114-7 (Jamie How 23, Todd Astle 10-2, Cole McConchie 20-2) lost to Canterbury Kings 116-4 in 18.4 overs (Andrew Ellis 39, Brendon Diamanti 36, Adam Milne 14-1) by six wickets.
Game four of the opening Georgie Pie Super Smash weekend was the first for both the Canterbury Kings — debuting their new purple team strip, and the Devon Hotel Central Stags. It rapidly turned into a right royal battle of wills.
The ferocity came from the respective bowling attacks, a tit-for-tat battle that saw pace bowlers suddenly go wild in conditions that had largely favoured spin all weekend. The Kings’ Logan van Beek started the ball rolling in the third over by blasting through the middle stump of his former teammate George Worker. Ronnie Hira, who had opened the attack, backed up by running out Ben Smith soon after, bringing together the stubborn pairing of Jamie How and Kieran Noema-Barnett to steady the Stags’ ship.
And they did, for a while, How surviving an early dropped chance behind the stumps. But, midway through the innings, Noema-Barnett was caught in the deep by van Beek on 17, with Todd Astle (2-10 off four) breaking their 33-run third wicket stand.
That lit a fuse that saw Stags wickets start toppling like dominoes. From 58-3, the Stags plunged to 95-7, and looked in danger of failing to register three figures until Adam Milne joined his captain Kruger van Wyk to punch out a late burst of runs.
The Kings were ebullient in restricting the Stags to just 114, but the low target had also created something of a problem: it had given the Stags’ attack carte blanche to throw everything they had at them — and that attack included the express incendiaries of Milne.
Neil Broom took a painful opening delivery from Wheeler in the groin before Milne revved up, the genuine quick reaching speeds circa 145 kph. After Ben Smith stopped a proverbial tracer bullet off Wheeler to send Broom back to the shed, the fourth over was a cracker — a Milne maiden bowled with such venom that van Wyk had to leap to stop the ball almost every delivery.
Adam Milne produced brutal pace in Hamilton to test the Kings batsmen.
At 23-1 after five, the Kings should not felt threatened by needing a mere 88 off 15 overs at 5.87, but the electric atmosphere was telling. Milne swiftly had Aiden Blizzard caught behind, Peter Fulton was run out in an ugly scramble back to his ground and then Seth Rance bowled Hira with his first delivery — a cheeky full toss.
Reeling at 38-4, enter Andrew Ellis in the eighth over. Combining with Brendon Diamanti, the former BLACKCAPS showed the value of experience as they kept their cool and started ticking off the 77 remaining runs required for the win, realising they had plenty of time. The unbeaten duo (Ellis, 39 off 31, three sixes and Diamanti, 36 off 40) got home with eight balls to spare to secure a lively six-wicket win.