The Knights have stormed into playoff contention in the McDonald’s Super Smash following a third straight win.
A six-wicket victory over the Canterbury Kings vaulted coach James Pamment’s men into second on the ladder; an impressive turnaround following a slow start to the season.
Their bowlers have been at the forefront of the success. Two days after restricting the Auckland Aces to 142/6 at Bay Oval, they kept the Kings to just 127/6 at the same venue to set up a chaseable target.
Every bowling option contributed for the Knights, Trent Lawford (2-34) and Scott Kuggeleijn (2-22) removing the Kings' top three, and spinners Jono Boult (1-18) and Ish Sodhi (1-24) taking the key middle order wickets of Peter Fulton and Andy Ellis respectively.
Daryl Mitchell chimed in with some more accurate death bowling to go for just 23 from his four overs, with only Todd Astle (37* from 22 balls) managing to effectively score at a quick rate.
The Kings could only muster five fours and a solitary six, and the Knights very quickly knocked of nearly half of their total without the fall of a wicket.
Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling are proving to be a compatible and productive opening pair, the duo adding 62 for the first wicket in eight overs.
Brownlie again played a strong, aggressive hand with 36 off 22 balls before the Kings found success with spin.
Tim Johnston took Brownlie’s wicket and his counterpart Astle claimed the scalp of Corey Anderson. When the pair also claimed the wickets of Lawford and Tim Seifert in quick succession, the Knights were 87/4 — and not yet assured of victory.
Astle ended with 2-21 and Johnston 2-24 from their eight combined overs but after they had finished their spells, the Knights got back to business.
Nick Kelly made an unbeaten 23 from 19 balls to be a sound partner for Watling, who once again finished unbeaten with a half-century, 52 not out from 48 balls as he smoked a six to once again see the Knights home.
The Knights now have 18 points, still four behind the chart-topping Stags but two ahead of the Kings and Aces. With a win worth four points, they can go a long way to securing that Finals spot when they meet the Firebirds at Seddon Park tonight (live on SKY), while the Kings face a vital clash with the Stags on Saturday afternoon at Pukekura Park once more.