Verma, Papps carry Wellington into final

Wellington 249 for 5 (Papps 80, Woodcock 41*, Tickner 2-39) beat Central Districts 247 (Worker 85, Young 57, Verma 4-49) by five wickets

After falling short by 27 runs against Canterbury in the first preliminary final, Wellington did not squander their second chance as they toppled Central Districts by five wickets in the third preliminary final at the Basin Reserve to set up a final against Canterbury on Saturday. Medium pacer Anurag Verma's 4 for 49 helped bowl out Central Districts for 247, and opening batsman Michael Papps scored 80 to help Wellington scale down the target with three balls to spare.

Like Papps, George Worker shone opening the innings for Central Districts. Worker strung together a century stand with captain Will Young (57 off 60 balls) to lift his team to 176 for 2. But Central Districts slid thereafter, losing five wickets for 29 runs, including that of Worker for 85. They were shored up by Josh Clarkson's rapid 42, off 33 balls, with four fours and two sixes.

Wellington showcased their batting strength in the chase. Barring Scott Borthwick, who was caught in the sixth over for 1, all their batsmen made contributions. Papps was supported by captain Hamish Marshall (37), Tom Blundell (21) and Michael Pollard (24).

Papps' wicket was the last Central Districts would take, when he was stumped off left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel. At that point, Wellington still needed 58 with just 47 balls and five wickets remaining. Luke Woodcock slammed an unbeaten 41 off 35 balls with four fours and two sixes, while Matt Taylor raced to an unbeaten 31 off 29 balls to seal a tense chase in the final over.

Blair Tickner and Kieran Noema-Barnett took two wickets each, although the latter was expensive, leaking 59 runs in 10 overs. Patel finished with 1 for 52.