Birt fifty sets up tense Northern Districts win
A brisk half-century from Australian import Travis Birt, underpinned by disciplined bowling led Northern Districts to a narrow two-run victory. George Worker accounted more than half the target of 150, but his unbeaten 59-ball 78 was not enough for Central Districts.
Only one of the Northern Districts bowlers went at more than 7.5 per over. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner struck in the first over of the chase. Worker offset that by leading a 52-run stand with Will Young, whose wicket triggered a middle-order wobble. Central Districts lost three men for 22 runs in five overs and Worker was left alone to handle an equation of 71 needed off 43. His second fifty in as many matches included five fours, three sixes and he was unbeaten.
Northern Districts' batting was mildly better with a couple of players building on starts before Birt came in at 49 for 2 and contributed 63 of the 100 runs put on by the third wicket. His innings took 44 balls and featured two fours and five sixes. That they were kept to 149 was down to economical spells from Central Districts bowlers as well, led by Ajaz Patel's 1 for 15 off fours overs. But the batsmen could not capitalise.
Canterbury had chosen to bat, but had to weather two early blows. Opener Neil Broom played a big part in that process with a steady half-century at one end, although he did strike three sixes in his 43-ball 51. Henry Nicholls partnered him in a 68-run partnership for the third wicket, and then led the fourth-wicket stand with Peter Fulton to the same tally off 44 balls. He was dismissed off the last ball of the innings for 61 off 45 balls, with four fours and a six.
The chase was given an early boost with Luke Wright who laced 38 off 19 balls. Cachopa cashed in on that foundation with three sixes and three fours and ensured he was there at the end, with brother and wicketkeeper Brad Cachopa who had been involved in three of the four Canterbury dismissals.