Birt gives Knights share of lead
Northern Knights coach James Pamment had expected a response from his team after their defeat to Canterbury on Friday, and they delivered it with a convincing 25-run win over Central Districts that gave them a share of the top spot in the Georgie Pie Super Smash.
Australia's Travis Birt top scored for Knights with a 68 that included four sixes and five fours, and he was supported by 35s from Dean Brownlie and Daryl Mitchell as Knights bounced back from the early loss of their openers. That lifted Knights to 166, despite another impressive effort from Adam Milne. Till the start of this tournament, the injury-prone Milne hadn't played competitive cricket since January, but he has now turned in three economical performances in a row, finishing with 1 for 19 today.
Another player who has had major injury troubles in recent years, Daniel Vettori, also turned in a frugal bowling effort - 4-0-14-0 - as Knights tied down Central to 141. Though there was a reasonably solid start to the chase, Central let the required-rate get out of hand by the midway stage and three wickets in the space of nine runs sent them hurtling towards their second defeat in two matches.
Otago Volts' horror run in the Georgie Pie Super Smash continued as they lost their fourth match in a row, to Wellington Firebirds. It is hard to tell which of this weekend's defeats was worse for Volts - the totally one-sided 106-run loss to Auckland on Saturday, or today's nail-biting reverse where Jeetan Patel slammed 15 runs off the final over to snatch victory for the Firebirds.
Volts lost Aaron Redmond early, after which Jesse Ryder showed off his big-hitting skills, racing to 50 off 23 deliveries. Michael Bracewell scored a more sedate 40 as the pair put on 80 at 10 an over. Volts lost momentum once that stand was broken, but Nathan McCullum's late cameo lifted them to 169.
McCullum then took three middle-order wickets to have the Firebirds in strife, leaving them 63 to get off the final five overs, with five wickets remaining. Grant Elliott boosted the chase with 19 off the next over but two wickets went down in the 17th with Dirk Nannes dismissing Elliott for a 24-ball 43 and Ryan ten Doeschate scoring a direct hit. The Firebirds didn't give up though, even with 30 needed off the final two. Patel was the star, hammering 34 off just 14 deliveries to take them to an unlikely victory, their first of the season.