Glenn Phillips' maiden T20 century went in vain as Central Districts beat Auckland by 11 runs in a game drastically shortened by rain. It worked out quite perfectly for the victors, who have now qualified for the final.
They began their chase facing a target of 213, but when weather intervened for the second time in their innings, during the eighth over, and led to an early close they were on 82 for 0 - 10 runs clear of the Duckworth-Lewis target. As a result, Auckland lost crucial net run-rate points and cannot fight for the title anymore. They finished on -0.227, but Canterbury were better by the barest of margins - 0.01 - and will face Wellington for a place in the final on Saturday.
Mahela Jayawardene was the eventual difference between the two teams. He smashed eight fours and a six as he rocketed along to an unbeaten 45 off 21 balls, and in the process left 20-year old Phillips, playing only his ninth T20, wondering what could have been. He had put on 113 runs for the second wicket with Jeet Raval at the run-rate of 10.43. Raval, who recently made his Test debut and earned high praise for his defensive capabilities, hammered 50 off 37 balls and though he fell in the 13th over the runs kept flowing off Phillips' bat. He struck eight fours and nine sixes and finished unbeaten on 116 - the equal highest score this season.
Bad weather hit the game at Basin Reserve as well, but it couldn't dampen the excitement one bit. A five-over shoot out was all that was possible and it ended in a tie as both Wellington and Otago finished on 48. The home team came out on top in the end - booking a playoff spot at the same venue on Thursday - as fast bowler Hamish Bennett took two wickets and conceded only eight runs in the Super Over.
Bennett had earlier conceded only four runs in his one over, as Otago's openers virtually batted through the five overs to put on 48. Anaru Kitchen fell off the last ball for 17 off 16. Hamish Rutherford made 24 off 12. In reply, Wellington lost regular wickets, before a five-ball 14 from Michael Pollard put them on track for the win. Needing eight off the last over, Wellington were strangled by Ryan Duffy, a wicketkeeper-batsman bowling for only the second time in a T20. He dismissed Matt Taylor early in the final over, and kept it down to seven runs, as Luke Woodcock was run-out off the last ball, to enforce a tie.
But Pollard and Bennett turned it around for Wellington in the Super Over, with the former hitting 17 off 5 balls to lift them to 20, and the latter conceding only one boundary in defending it.