Knights begin title defence with win
Northern Knights 157 for 8 (Birt 44, Hutchinson 4-36, Fletcher 3-19) beat Wellington 131 for 9 (Pollard 35, Devcich 4-19) by 26 runs
Northern Knights might be missing Tim Southee and Trent Boult but their bowlers turned in a solid performance to deliver victory over Wellington in the opening match of the George Pie Super Smash tournament.
Knights' Australian import Travis Birt top scored with 44 to anchor the innings which began with the scoring rate at ten an over before three wickets reduced the momentum. Their other Australian, Ben Laughlin, finished off the innings with 12 off the final three deliveries to lift the total beyond 150. Nottinghamshire's 6' 6" quick Luke Fletcher took three wickets for Wellington, and Brisbane-born quick Dane Hutchinson was the most successful with four.
Wellington's chase revolved around 30s from opener Michael Pollard and Australian T20 specialist Brad Hodge, but there was little contribution from the rest, with seven batsmen making single-digit scores. Hodge was Wellington's main hope towards the end of the chase, but three wickets to the left-arm spin of Anton Devcich in the 18th over pretty much guaranteed Knights the victory.
Auckland 167 for 4 (Guptill 64, de Grandhomme 42*) beat Otago 165 for 8 (Redmond 46, McClenaghan 3-29) by two runs
Auckland seamer Mitchell McClenaghan picked up two wickets in the final over, as the team held on for a two-run win against Otago at Seddon Park. Chasing 168, Otago needed 13 off the last over, but McClenaghan immediately pegged them back by dismissing Ryan ten Doeschate off the first ball, and effecting the run-out of Nick Beard off the second. A wide and a six helped Auckland come to within three runs of victory off the last delivery, but McClenaghan bowled out Sam Wells to seal a close win.
Auckland, opting to bat, had made 167 for 4 from their 20 overs. Their innings was built around a 64 from opener Martin Guptill, and a 19-ball 42 from Colin de Grandhomme who slammed four fours and two sixes to provide a late surge.
Jesse Ryder, who was selected in the New Zealand A squad which will tour the UAE later this month, began the chase well with a four and a six of Kyle Mills' first over, but he failed to build on and was bowled by McClenaghan for 12. Handy knocks from Aaron Redmond (46), Nathan McCullum (31) and ten Doeschate (34) kept Otago going, but none could stay long enough to guide the team home. Three run-outs also did not help Otago's cause, as they could muster only 165 for 8.
McClenaghan was the pick of Auckland's bowlers and finished with 3 for 29, including one crucial maiden.