The Ford Trophy match between the Sky City Northern Knights and Canterbury played at the Bay Oval at Mount Maunganui yesterday was an absolute thriller that went down to the wire.
The Knights clinched the victory with just two balls to spare and with three wickets in hand, thanks to the steady nerve of Black Caps keeper/batsman BJ Watling who finished 47 not out off 40 balls.
Canterbury won the toss and elected to bat first. The first Canterbury wicket fell at the 22-run mark and they were in trouble at five down with just 84 runs on the board.
However, a sterling partnership between Canterbury captain Andrew Ellis and Cameron Fletcher was worth 88 runs. The visitors reached 172/6 when Fletcher was bowled by Anton Devcich for 41. Canterbury finished their 50 overs at 251/8, with Ellis stranded on 96 , needing a four of the last ball for his century.
The best Knights bowler was Mount Maunganui and Bay of Plenty quick Tony Goodin, who bowled with genuine pace to grab 3/36. Cody Andrews and Anton Devcich both took two wickets apiece, with Mitchell Santner returned to the Knights from Black Cap duty taking the key wicket of Peter Fulton.
Former Tauranga Boys' College students Daniel Flynn and Joe Carter opened for the Knights and posted 42 before captain Flynn was caught for 21. Carter went for 35, before Dean Brownlie and Anton Devich put together a solid partnership.
The loss of Mount Maunganui resident Brownlie for his side's top score of 67 saw the momentum swing in the visitor's favour, before Knights keeper Watling dug in.
The run rate crept up and the home side needed nearly 10 runs an over from the last four overs. However Watling's unbeaten knock of 47 resulted in a narrow win with just two balls to spare. James Baker was also in defiant form with an unbeaten 22 from 21 balls.
Canterbury 251/8 (A Ellis 96no, C Fletcher 41, R Hira 35; Tony Goodin 3/36, Cory Andrews 2/40, Anton Devcich 2/43) lost to Sky City Northern Knights 255/7 (Dean Brownlie 67, BJ Watling 47no, Joe Carter 35, Anton Devcich 26, James Baker 22no; TG Johnston 3/39).