Northern Districts sneak into final
Northern Districts 181 for 4 (Williamson 79*) beat Canterbury 178 for 7 (Fulton 88*, Tremain 3-19) by three runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
At the start of the 19th over of their innings, Canterbury needed 20 runs to pull off an incredible chase, and with their captain, an in-form Peter Fulton, still at the crease, the team would've though that they had every chance of overcoming Northern Districts for a place in Saturday's final against Otago.
Fulton had been making sweet connection with the ball, slamming six sixes before that over to bring Canterbury to within touching distance of victory, and when Chris Tremain lined up to bowl the penultimate over, not many would have bet against a Northern Districts defeat.
However, the seamer conceded just five runs off his over, restricting Fulton and his partner at the other end, Andrew Ellis, with yorkers. Tremain's heroic effort meant that Canterbury needed 15 off the last over. Scott Kuggeleijn held his nerve and just like Tremain, frustrated Fulton with full-length deliveries to set up a narrow three-run win for Northern Districts.
Electing to bat, Northern Districts were lifted by an unbroken partnership of 73 for the fourth wicket between Scott Styris and Kane Williamson, which eventually helped the team post a formidable 181 for 4. Styris, though, had only contributed 29 to that stand, allowing the more aggressive Williamson to get among the Canterbury bowlers. Williamson remained unbeaten on 79, with seven fours and a six.
The defeat would've been all that more difficult to swallow for Canterbury and Fulton in particular, as he had almost single-handedly dragged the team from a precarious 37 for 3, to within one scoring shot of a place in the finals.
Canterbury had lost their openers as well as No. 3 Dean Brownlie inside seven overs of the chase, but Fulton, coming in at No. 4, unleashed a counterattack along with Ronnie Hira. The pair took 22 runs off Kuggeleijn's first over, and from 37 in the seventh over, Canterbury were 121 by the 14th. However, keeping with the see-saw nature of the contest, the momentum once again swung Northern Districts' way as Canterbury lost three more quick wickets to stumble to 129 for 6.
Fulton, however, remained unfazed and dragged the tail with him to keep the match alive until the very last ball. He needed a six to seal the win, but this time, Kuggeleijn won the mini-battle to leave Fulton stranded on 88, and Canterbury three runs from a place in the final.