Williamson spins ND to one-day title defence
Northern Districts 304 for 3 (Watling 145*, Flynn 59, Williamson 69) beat Auckland 283 (McIntosh 50, Bopara 62, Williamson 5-51) by 21 runs
Kane Williamson turned in a powerful all-round performance when it most mattered to help Northern Districts win their second one-day title in a row. Williamson's 71-ball 69 had contributed to ND's strong total of 304 for 3, alongside the opener BJ Watling's unbeaten century, but it was with the ball that he was most effective, snaring career-best figures with his offspin to down Auckland by 21 runs at Colin Maiden Park. With this win ND became the first side since Canterbury in 1999-2000 to win successive domestic one-day titles.
Auckland were up against it chasing a stiff target, and the early departure of Reece Young didn't make things easier. But a strong partnership between Tim McIntosh and Ravi Bopara had them looking good on 100 for 1 in the 24th over. That's when Williamson struck first, sending back McIntosh for 50. Then he struck in successive overs to dismissed the in-form Scott Styris for 4 and Bopara for 62, leaving Auckland at 129 for 4.
Williamson's fourth wicket snapped a 54-run recovery stand, as Lou Vincent steered a catch to Daniel Flynn for a speedy 32. Anaru Kitchen (37 from 39 balls) and Colin de Grandhomme (36 from 16 balls) tried to stay above the asking rate but it proved beyond Auckland. Williamson picked up his fifth wicket when he cut off de Grandhomme and was well backed up by Graeme Aldridge (2 for 40) and Brent Arnel (0 from 37). It was Williamson's first five-wicket haul, surpassing his previous best of 3 for 48. Ben Scott took the last two wickets.
Garth Hopkins with 36 off 38, Lou Vincent 32 from 24, Anaru Kitchen with 37 from 39 and Colin de Grandhomme 36 from 16 all attempted to keep the side in the hunt but the ND bowling proved too accurate and each succumbed.
Put in to bat, ND had been powered by Watling's fifth one-day century, the highest score of his career by some distance. With Daniel Flynn he put on 98 for the opening wicket, Flynn scoring 59 from 58 balls before falling in the 21st over. That brought Williamson in and the stand that ultimately formed the crux of ND's win was born. Williamson and Watling put on 163 with Williamson hitting 69. He was out in the 46th over, but Watling reached his century off 131 balls, with 16 fours and two sixesm and Peter McGlashan collected an 20 from 12 before he was run out off the last ball of the innings. Styris had the best figures of the innings with 1 for 41 from his quota.
The brilliant performance of Williamson, 19, culminated in him winning the competition's MVP title, having racked up 552 runs at an average of 79 before today.
This was the third time the North Island neighbours met each recently. Auckland had beaten ND in the final round of league games before suffering defeat in the preliminary finals. With the stakes at their highest, it was ND who won the decider.
"I said to the boys that we deserved to be in the final but we had to go out and earn that trophy, and we did that. It was special from BJ and Kane - great with bat and ball - and to all the guys I couldn't ask for anything more," said the winning captain James Marshall. "It was just fantastic and I was proud to captain the side."
"Northern deserved to win it, two times in a row is no mean feat," said Auckland's captain Gareth Hopkins. "Two finals, two losses is pretty tough but we've played some pretty good cricket this year... it'll make us stronger and more determined to come back and convert these finals in future."