Cricket: Butler brings Otago home

Otago celebrate a wicket during the HRV T20 Final match between the Otago Volts and the Wellington Firebirds. Photo / Getty Images.
Otago celebrate a wicket during the HRV T20 Final match between the Otago Volts and the Wellington Firebirds. Photo / Getty Images.

When three of your top four batsmen are dismissed without scoring you're always going to find it tough to post enough runs and that was the case for the Wellington Firebirds in today's HRV Cup final.

After an impressive win over Auckland in Friday's preliminary final, Wellington travelled to Dunedin to meet Otago this afternoon with plenty of confidence.

But, after winning the toss and deciding to bat first they limped to a total of 143-9 that was never going to be easy to defend at the batsman-friendly University Oval as Otago battled to a four-wicket win and the HRV Cup title.

Wellington opener Jesse Ryder hammered his quota of runs as he made 30 from 15 balls but the problems came with the next three players below him on the scorecard.

Michael Pollard, Michael Papps and Cameron Borgas were all sent back to the pavilion without providing any work for the scorers and when Luke Ronchi (14) and Theo Doropoulos (5) also departed in quick succession, Wellington looked like they might not even make 100.

From 54-6 Luke Woodcock and Harry Boam commissioned a rescue operation for the visitors as they added 72 for the seventh wicket before Boam was eventually out for 35.

Woodcock ended up with the highest score of the innings as he was unbeaten on 40, while Otago seamer James Fuller picked up 4-24 from four overs.

Needing a shade above seven an over for victory, Otago got off to a rocky start as left-arm spinner Mark Houghton dismissed Hamish Rutherford (0) and Aaron Redmond (6) inside the first two overs.

Veteran opener Neil Broom steadied the chaos as he played the anchor role, while Derek de Boorder (33) and import Ryan ten Doeschate (21) blazed away from the other end.

When ten Doeschate was caught by Ronchi from the bowling of Ryder the Firebirds caught a sniff of an unlikely victory and when they ran out Michael Bracewell without scoring they believed they could off something special.

Broom eventually succumbed for 60, leaving Otago needing 14 from the final 14 balls but Ian Butler struck a few useful blows to see the Volts home as he finished unbeaten on 23.

The victory could be lucrative for Otago as they also earned a berth in this year's Twenty20 Champion's League qualifying stage.

- APNZ

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