Defending champs the Wellington Firebirds have got that winning feeling after catapulting back to the top of the Burger King Super Smash points table this afternoon.
Edging past the Knights thanks to a better net run rate on the ladder, on the park they brushed aside the winless Otago Volts by seven wickets, handing the sorry southerners their fifth loss of the season.
Nearing his 39th birthday Hamish Marshall showed again that age is just a number in this game as he ensured the Firebirds got off to a fast start, the capital city hosts chasing down the Volts’ insufficient tally of 159 for seven on a windy but thoroughly entertaining Basin Reserve afternoon.
Marshall was all quick, class strokeplay and as he deftly placed five boundaries off a single Neil Wagner over, 10 boundaries in all flying from a damaging 17-ball innings.
After his quick 43, opening partner Luke Ronchi had hardly had to face a ball, but with the form horse more than handy himself (he would slam his 49 off 32 balls) and Tom Blundell (16 off 10) with him as the next duo, the Volts were simply up against it trying to defend their light runs.
Neil Wagner used his slower ball to good effect, but just couldn’t stem the rampage while Ronchi connected for a typically positive innings that included three crisp sixes, including a very sweet bomb over point.
Earlier, nothing much had gone to plan for the Volts with the bat either, sent in by captain Marshall on a deck that held up a little during the first dig.
With a huge wicket first ball of the match — Hamish Rutherford caught off Samit Patel — hopefully the punters had remembered to get down to the park with plenty of time to get through the gate and park up under the pohutukawa for a show that included some brilliant fielding from the home side, particularly a clutch outfield catch from the fit-again Logan van Beek.
Young Ace-turned-Volt Shawn Hicks again impressed for the southerners as he crunched a valuable T20 50 off just 36 balls at first drop to ensure the Firebirds’ excellent start with the ball wasn’t too excellent, and he got support from captain Rob Nicol in a 73-run stand before Samit Patel got Nicol caught as the ball held up in the breeze.
The dismissal of Hicks moved the wicket column to 99 for three in the 13th over and that unfortunately saw the Volts tail away dramatically, with only energetic youngster Josh Finnie (22 off 14) contributing to the Whopper 6 deal today for the locals.
There was also a scary moment for Wagner who was hit through the grill of his helmet; he had to be tested for concussion before he continued in the game.
Samit Patel clouted the winning boundary with a whopping seven overs, as well as seven wickets to spare, pushing the barnstorming Birds right back into pole.