The Canterbury Wizards made a winning start to their HRV Cup campaign but they made hard work of it in defeating the Wellington Firebirds by three wickets at the Basin Reserve here today.
The Wizards bowled tightly to restrict the Firebirds to 148 for five but almost blew the run chase after they had appeared to be strolling to victory at 97 for two in the 12th over.
Lower order batsmen Andy Ellis and Todd Astle eventually got the visitors home with two balls to spare after between them scoring 17 runs from nine balls.
The Firebirds recorded a first-up win over the Otago Volts here yesterday but they were disappointing with the bat today.
Only big-hitting opener Michael Pollard with 54 from just 41 balls and English import Luke Wright, whose late flurry saw him end the innings unbeaten on 45 from 31 balls, put up a fight against an impressive Wizards bowling attack.
Injury-plagued Wizards quick Richard Sherlock generated good pace into the wind in his spell of one for 14 from three overs while offpsinner Rob Nicol (none for 20 from four) was difficult to get away and Dutch import Ryan ten Doeschate had innings-best figures of two for 21 from three.
Nicol and ten Doeschate completed good doubles, scoring 31 and 41, respectively, at the top of the order but Canterbury did their best to commit cricketing suicide. A a series reckless shots and two run outs almost saw them blow victory as left arm spinner Luke Woodcock (two for 15 from four) and medium pacer Ronald Karaitiana (two for 18 from four) nearly bowled the Firebirds to the unlikeliest of wins.