All-round Hira ends Wellington's hopes
Canterbury 145 (Hira 57, Blizzard 41, Verma 3-34) beat Wellington 127 for 9 (Blundell 60, Hira 2-20, Henry 2-29) by 18 runs
Ronnie Hira struck a quick fifty and took two wickets to set up Canterbury's 18-run win over Wellington, eliminating the latter's chances of defending their Georgie Pie Super Smash title.
Languishing at the bottom of the points table, Wellington needed to win their last three games to keep their tournament alive. They opted to bowl at Basin Reserve and their attack responded by dismissing Canterbury for 145. Aiden Blizzard's 37-ball 41 and Hira's 40-ball 57 were the only significant contributions in an otherwise shaky innings. Only three Canterbury batsmen managed to reach double-figures as the side slumped from 89 for 4 in the 13th over and looked in strife. Anurag Verma was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3 for 34.
Canterbury's bowlers, however, kept a grip on Wellington's chase. Opener Michael Papps was dismissed in the first over but the serious shift in momentum came towards the latter part of the innings. From 45 for 1 in the ninth over, Wellington careened to 94 for 9 by the 17th. Matt Henry, in his first match of the tournament for Canterbury, took 2 for 29. Hira dismissed Luke Woodcock and Jeetan Patel off successive deliveries and Wellington lost another wicket in that 16th over to a run-out as well. Ed Nuttall, Andrew Ellis and Logan van Beek claimed a wicket apiece. For Wellington, Tom Blundell was the top-scorer with 60 off 48 balls.
"Those guys at the top of the order - Papps, Blundell and Murdoch, were big wickets for us and then we just tried to strangle them, and got there in the end," Hira said. "The breeze was a bit difficult, and it was a difficult wicket, but having Matt Henry back for us today really added something for us."
Michael Hussey and Shane Watson are slated to join Canterbury before their must-win game against Central Districts, in Christchurch on Sunday.