Firebirds v CD Stags
Something's right, something's wrong but in the end they got the desired result against this summer's bogey team.
Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags coach Alan Hunt says that and veteran Mathew Sinclair will be the first to attest to that after they came through by the skin of their teeth against the Wellington Firebirds yesterday.
The 10-run victory in the one-day match at the Basin Reserve, after a heavy defeat in the opening round in Nelson, comes in the nick of time as CD find traction in their campaign to defend the Ford Trophy on the heels of claiming the first-class bragging rights last week.
Hunt and Sinclair were unanimous in that the Stags' total of 302-7 in 50 overs wasn't enough after captain Kieran Noema-Barnett won the toss and chose to pad up.
"Around 300 was a par score. We should have got up to about 320," the coach said although he was satisfied the Stags had made enough in the middle order to keep the run rate up at crucial times.
Sinclair, believing CD were 31-odd shy, said: "It wasn't pretty but we'll take it."
The batsman said the Basin Reserve wicket had yielded more than 700 runs in just two games.
Luckily for CD no other Wellington batsman kept Michael Papps company as the veteran carved up 154 runs, his second consecutive one in the competition this summer.
His knock came from 130 balls, including 22 boundaries for his 11th List A century.
"Why would he [Papps score back-to-back tons] when you're playing on your home ground all the time?" Sinclair said after the hosts were 292-9 in 50 overs.
The 37-year-old said it was the Stags' first victory this season "so a win's a win".
He wasn't privy to how his teammates felt but Sinclair was simply happy to get off the park.
"It was a long day chasing the ball all day," he lamented.
Former Black Caps legspinner Tarun Nethula was the pick of the bowlers with 33-2 from 10 overs while opener Ben Wheeler started his trophy stint with a tidy 2-63 from as many overs, as well as claiming the prized scalp of CD nemesis Jesse Ryder for one run.
Bar Nethula and Andrew Mathieson (1-25 off 6 overs), all bowlers were a shade too expensive again.
Sinclair said test bowler Doug Bracewell would be the first to admit he didn't get it right, especially for someone who hits the deck hard, but did well to tighten up towards the end.
The two-bouncer rule meant batsmen were unable to play copybook shots down the park was fast becoming extinct as balls went whizzing past their ears from deliveries short of a length.
Noema-Barnett scored 67 from 50 balls to help Black Cap Ross Taylor who made a snappy 61 from 67 balls.
CD travel to Nelson today to host Canterbury Wizards at Saxton Oval on Sunday.
They will lose the services of test players Bracewell and Taylor while Carl Cachopa won't be allowed to play despite finishing with New Zealand XI.
Northern Districts Knights beat Auckland Aces by three wickets at Seddon Park yesterday.
Canterbury Wizards are on the board after a 106-run win over Otago Volts in Christchurch.
In other matches on Sunday, Auckland will visit Wellington and the Knights play the Volts in Invercargill.