ROUND EIGHT OF 10
OTAGO VOLTS defeated WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS by 15 runs
10 February 2024
Cello Basin Reserve, Wellington
Points: Otago Volts 4, Wellington Firebirds 0
- Matt Bacon 50 List A matches for Otago Volts
- Peter Younghusband 50 List A wickets
- Andrew Hazeldine Career best List A score and maiden List A half century
- Otago Volts: 10th Wicket List A partnership record (previous record: 67, Nathan Smith and Michael Rae v Wellington Firebirds 2020/21)
- Luke Georgeson - maiden List A five-wicket bag
Several days earlier, Andrew Hazeldine had helped stun the Central Stags at University of Otago Oval with his sharp bowling. Now he showed he was pretty handy with a bat, too.
Heading to the capital still in contention for playoffs on a tight table, the Otago Volts had another handy paceman back from injury for the first time this season in this match, Matt Bacon raring to go, but were asked to bat frst by Nick Kelly who won the toss for the hosts.
The southern men quickly found themselves on the back foot, losing their top three batters for single-figure scores as Adam Milne, Logan van Beek (3/27) and Ben Sears (with a ripper of a yorker to shatter Dean Foxcroft's stumps) all striking early.
From 35/3, Thorn Parkes (30) and Dale Phillips (57) did the initial repair work with a 73-run stand, but when Sears broke that as well in the 27th over, and with Phillips gone soon after, the Volts again struggled to get partnerships going.
Until, that is, number 10 Hazeldine strode in, with his team in all sorts at 132.8 after 37 overs.
Granted, he lost the support of Ben Lockrose the very next over as van Beek made it 147/9, but Jacob Duffy was up for some tailend fun, and stuck around for the next six overs while Hazeldine gave himself room and swung hard.
Hazeldine hit two sixes off Nathan Smith, and gave Milne and Sears the same treatment with one apiece - inspiring Duffy to follow suit as he clobbered Milne for a couple himself.
With a bevy of boundaries, and turning the strike over nicely as well, the pair broke the Otago Volts 10th wicket allcomers record, putting on an insolent 79 together as frustration mounted for the home attack.
Hazeldine reached his maiden 50 off just 24 balls (5x4, 4x6) as they charged past the 200-mark. Duffy was going nicely too, at 27 off 15, when the fun ended in the 45th over with his wicket - ironically caught off a rank full toss from Milne.
The Volts were all out for 226, a salvage job that would mean their hosts had lost their chance of a walkover and would need some five runs per over in reply.
But while that might still have seemed eminently doable, the Firebirds also found their innings not going to plan.
The reunited combo of Duffy and Bacon had both openers back in the dressing room at 33/2 - off consecutive balls.
Troy Johnson and captain Nick Kelly settled things down with a 34-run stand for the third, but Kelly's departure in the 19th - caught off former Firebird Luke Georgeson - opened the door again for the Volts.
Georgeson came back soon after to bowl a brutal double wicket maiden in the 22nd and all of a sudden the Firebirds were in big trouble at 83/5.
Nathan Smith and Johnson had to reset and rebuild, but eventually freed their arms to get their side motoring again.
As the 30-over mark approached, they both sent the pill over the rope, to be 128/5, with 20 overs to go.
That translated into a required rate of just under five an over for the last 20, but Bacon and Hazeldine exerted some pressure in this see-sawing match before Georgeson came back and got his fourth, Smith caught at 159/6 for 37 (a third catch for the busy Jacob Cumming). He soon had his maiden bag: 5/37.
The Firebirds found themselves needing 46 off the last 50 balls, with just three wickets in hand - first drop Johnson still soldiering on, having reached his half century off 71 balls.
With the 200 up, the Firebirds suffered a few butterflies when Lockrose trapped Milne to make it eight down in the run-a-ball chase.
With equation down to 19 runs off 16, Duffy finally dislodged the sticking point of Johnson, who on 83 went to pull him heartily towards the rope, only to be caught by Parkes.
Now the match was on a knife-edge, the Volts needing just one more wicket with two overs left. They didn't have to wait that long as Sears was run out at the start of the 49th, the Volts on the comeback trail in a tense 15-run win.