Cricket: Nicol puts errant Knights to sword

By Ben Guild

An imperious, unbeaten 171 from former Black Caps batsman Rob Nicol has led the Canterbury Wizards to a comfortable 108 run win over the Northern Knights at Bay Oval.

Nicol, who batted at first drop, put on a staggering unbroken partnership of 91 runs from 29 deliveries with Ronnie Hira to take the game away from an errant Northern Knights bowling unit.

The pair was particularly savage on seamers Brent Arnel and Graeme Aldridge, who took one wicket between them for a combined total of 177 runs.

Anurag Verma was the most economical of the Knights' bowlers with one for 44 off nine overs, while Tauranga's Jono Boult claimed two wickets and went for a run a ball from his full complement.

Earlier, the Wizards made a steady start until George Worker was the first to go for 25 courtesy of Daryl Mitchell with the score at 50.

The Canterbury side progressed to 141 by the time Brad Cachopa was dismissed by Aldridge for 58, with Tom Latham following shortly after for four with the score at 150-3.

Henry Nicholls and Shanan Stewart chimed in with valuable cameos in support of Nicol, who plundered 12 fours and 10 sixes in a 116 ball knock which continued the trend of large scores being posted in the Ford Trophy competition.

A total of 34 extras, including 28 wides, helped the visitors amass 362/6 on a pitch that has seen plenty of runs scored so far this summer.

The Knights' run chase got off to a terrible start, with openers Anton Devcich and Daniel Flynn back in the hut with just 12 runs on the board.

Mitchell and Jono Hickey steadied the ship, but by the time Mitchell was bowled in the 10th over by Hamish Bennett for 14, the required run rate was approaching eight runs per over.

Brad Wilson fell for five shortly after, leaving the Knights in a hole they could not escape.

From there the Knights lost wickets regularly chasing quick runs and were never really in a contest decided by Nicol's sparkling century.

A late flurry from Verma, who smashed 58 from 35 balls including five sixes, served only to delay the inevitable, with the hosts bowled out with more than 10 overs to spare.

Northern Knights are back at the Bay Oval on Wednesday when they host the Otago Vaults from 11am.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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