Jesse Ryder's cricketing renaissance continued in Wellington last night as he guided the Firebirds to a six-wicket win over Canterbury in their opening HRV Cup game.
Playing under lights at Westpac Stadium to keep the television broadcasters happy, Wellington made light work of Canterbury's total of 147-6.
Ryder, who has made himself unavailable for the national side as he works his way back to form after taking a break from the game earlier this year, blazed 90 not out from 57 deliveries.
He displayed a mixture of power hitting through cover, slogs over cow corner and a few deft touches along the way.
The 28-year-old also made two hundreds in a Plunket Shield game recently and it seems a matter of `when' rather than `if' he will be back in the New Zealand team.
During the run chase, Ryder found a reliable partner in Australian import Cameron Borgas, who racked up 24 on his Wellington debut.
Towards the end of the pursuit it was raining sixes as Ryder went about taking apart the Canterbury bowling attack as he and Borgas put on a useful stand of 82 for the third wicket, which set up the result.
Canterbury only briefly looked in the game during the sixth over when import pace bowler Ben Laughlin dismissed Michael Pollard and Michael Papps in consecutive balls, but that only brought Ryder and Borgas together and Wellington never looked back.
Eventually, Ryder and Grant Elliott, who finished unbeaten on eight, finished the job with three overs to spare.
Wellington also found out, having a guy who can bowl genuinely fast is a valuable commodity on the cricket field and Shaun Tait's express pace was too hot to handle at times for the Canterbury batsmen earlier in the evening.
The former Australian test paceman has brought his sling-armed action to Wellington for a two-game stint with the Firebirds in the HRV Cup and he proved his worth tonight.
He produced four miserly overs that he delivered in two separate spells of two overs each and finished with 2-14 as he stopped Canterbury's momentum at the start and end of their innings.
Canterbury opener Bradley Cachopa anchored his side's batting effort as he spent all 20 overs in the middle and finished unbeaten on 67 from 58 balls, while former international Peter Fulton contributed 34 from 23, including two sixes.
The Wizards looked on track for a huge total when they were on 113-2 after Fulton's departure in the 15th over, but some savvy bowling from Wellington skipper Elliot and Tait's exploits reeled in the visitors.
In the end, their total proved to not be enough as Ryder's powerful display, that included five sixes, brought the home side to victory.
Short scoreboard: Wellington 148-4 (Jesse Ryder 90*, Cameron Borgas 24; Ben Laughlin 3-21) beat Canterbury 147-6 (Bradley Cachopa 67*, Peter Fulton 34; Grant Elliot 2-6, Shaun Tait 2-14) by 6 wickets