SBS Bank Otago Volts 120-8 in 17 overs (rain-reduced; ten Doeschate 31, Rance 2-22) lost to Devon Hotel Central Stags 122-4 in 16.4 overs (Worker 71 not out, Finnie 2-9 off 2) by six wickets at McLean Park.
A must-win game for the Devon Hotel Central Stags in Napier turned into double celebrations in the Bay after they got up to emulate the Central Hinds’ T20 win in Hastings earlier that afternoon. Opening batsman George Worker made sure of it by carrying his bat for an unbeaten 71 off 52 balls — a handsome effort on a night that had appeared to favour bowling.
Pre-match showers had freshened the air, then, five balls after play had commenced, a dramatic thunderstorm swept over McLean Park. The light show saw the game reduced to 17 overs, but once it had passed attention returned to the crease on an evening that was just as suddenly clear and crisp.
SBS Bank Otago Volts skipper Ryan ten Doeschate had called correctly and chosen to bat first, but the visitors, already out of title contention, stuttered after wickets fell too quickly, the captain scrambling together the top score of 31. As we’d seen previously in the competition, once the Stags’ pace attack got a sniff, they were away. Ben Wheeler made the first move by bowling Aaron Redmond and when Seth Rance zeroed in on Michael Bracewell for a duck in the same fashion shortly afterwards, and spinner Ajaz Patel kept things tight, the Volts looked in for one of those nights.
There was drama when Wheeler bowled two no balls above shoulder-height, meaning he was not permitted to complete the last over — the final two balls delivered by Bevan Small. Veteran finisher Bradley Scott had meanwhile belted a quick 15 runs, but 120-8 still did not seem quite enough to rattle the Stags’ confidence at half-time.
There was much interest in the Volts debut of New Zealand under-19s player Josh Finnie, fresh out of Otago Boys’ High School. He’d played and missed to Rance to hear his stumps clatter on 12, but with the ball he had a dream debut — becoming the first bowler in the history of New Zealand Twenty20 cricket to take two caught and bowleds in a single match. Coming on in the seventh over, the 17-year-old got his maiden wicket with just his second ball, aggressive Will Young paying the price for not getting a better look at him. The edge flew high and Finnie couldn’t believe his luck as he got underneath it.
The Stags were 39-2: Finnie made that 48-3 when, in his next over, the teenager did it again — after David Meiring, also on Twenty20 debut, popped one straight back to him. But Worker stood firm at the other end and with his captain Kruger van Wyk set to work on bringing it home. A van Wyk six off Jacob Duffy eased the equation to 44 from 32 before Dane Cleaver joined Worker to bring it home with two balls to spare and keep the Stags’ flickering hope alive.
Before play began, all five teams in Napier for this weekend’s action gathered on-field to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes.