Stags licking bitter woodenspoon

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

HRV Cup T20

New Plymouth

"It's time to get out out that Maggi mix and that big woodenspoon," Mathew Sinclair said last night after another loss in an HRV Cup Twenty/20 campaign to forget.

The Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags lynchpin said it was perhaps timely to review their T20 campaign after a three-wicket defeat at the hands of the table-topping Otago Volts in their penultimate match at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, yesterday.

The Volts, who had already secured a home final this Sunday, chased down the Stags' 163-7 in 20 overs with four balls to spare to maintain their eight-match winning streak.

"I thought we came up 10 runs short of what is the par total of around 175 here," Sinclair said after some lusty hitting from No 8 Ian Butler, who scored 32 not out from 17 balls, ending nine victories on the trot for the hosts at their No 1 T20 venue.

However, he clarified the three-day-old wicket kept low and slow.

While legspinner Tarun Nethula, 2-26, and offspinner Marty Kain, 1-27, both off four overs, found traction, Zimbabwe international speed merchant Kyle Jarvis took some stick with 1-39.

"Tarun bowled well, Marty went for 13 off his first over and then recovered well but Jarvy got hit quite a bit," Sinclair lamented, adding CD struggled to find decent death bowlers this season.

Captain Kieran Noema-Barnett bowled well too, on 2-24 after 3.2 overs when the game ended.

Noema-Barnett scored an inspiring 47 runs from 20 balls at No 5 after a sedate 49 runs from 39 balls from No 3 Jeet Raval and opener Jamie How's 31 from 25 balls.

Retired Black Cap Jacob Oram turned up from paternal duties after the birth of a child akin to How but had drink-carrying duties.

"Jake's probably not too far from playing again.

"He's come into the squad to up-skill for the T20 campaign but whether he will play in the final game I don't know but we're taking him around with us right now," the former international said of Oram before their final game at Eden Park tomorrow from 4pm.

The Wellington Firebirds advanced to the semifinals of the HRV Cup with a win over Northern Districts yesterday - and Auckland could join them there with one more victory.

With Otago having already clinched top spot and secured a home final for Sunday, four teams entered yesterday with a chance of making Friday's semifinal.

Wellington wrote their ticket with a tense victory at the Basin Reserve, while Auckland eliminated Canterbury in Rangiora and now have a chance of edging ND to the final playoff spot.

Auckland will need to beat the Stags in their final match at Eden Park on Tuesday, and they will need to do it in comprehensive fashion to overtake the Knights on run rate.

Both of yesterday's matches with playoff implications went to the final over and, while Northern Districts failed to chase Wellington's 181, Auckland overhauled Canterbury's 182 with three balls and four wickets to spare.

The hero for the Aces was South African-born allrounder Donovan Grobbelaar. The 29-year-old, enjoying his maiden season of first class cricket, came to the crease with his side needing 27 from the final 14 balls.

The result appeared unlikely earlier in Auckland's chase, but Colin de Grandhomme (36 from 23) and Craig Cachopa (37 from 25) combined for a fifth-wicket partnership of 73 from 41 balls.

That set the stage for Grobbelaar to overtake Canterbury's challenging target, set up by opener George Worker's 89 from 60 balls.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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