It was only meant to be a dress rehearsal for the T20
domestic final but nobody gave Canterbury the script.
Auckland, the runaway leaders in this year's HRV Cup, hosted
Canterbury at Colin Maiden Park this evening in a dead-rubber
round-robin match ahead of Sunday's final.
The defending champion Auckland side would have expected to
pull off their eighth win of the competition after they
batted first and became the first team to pass the 200-mark
this summer, ammassing 202-4 from 20 overs, but they fell to
a seven-wicket loss.
Canterbury captain Peter Fulton must have questioned his
decision to put the home side in after he won the toss when
he saw what his side were required to chase.
Auckland's Pakistani import Azhar Mahmood led the way for the
Aces, the 36-year-old hammering an unbeaten century from 61
balls, his second ton in 105 matches in the shortest form of
Mahmood was well supported by his skipper Gareth Hopkins, who
made 42 from 28 balls, including three sixes and as many
Canterbury's left-arm spinner George Worker picked up two
wickets from three overs, but most of the visiting bowlers
were dispatched to all corners of Colin Maiden Park.
Worker then combined with fellow opening batsman Rob Nicol to
put on 85 for the first wicket as Canterbury went about
chasing down the mammoth Auckland total.
When Worker departed in the eighth over from the bowling of
economical spinner Roneel Hira, the second-placed Canterbury
outfit were well on their way to pulling off a remarkable
Black Caps middle-order batsman Dean Brownlie kept up the
momentum with a rapid 39 from 22 balls and when he and Nicol
took 23 from a Bruce Martin over the equation for victory
look a lot healthier for Canterbury.
Brownlie's departure brought veteran all-rounder Brendon
Diamanti to the crease. He finished on 10 not out, which
included a valuable six off Mahmood's bowling when they
needed 10 from seven balls.
But the innings belonged to Nicol who hit the winning runs
from Hira with a sweep shot to the fine leg boundary to bring
up his maiden T20 century from only 57 balls, including a New
Zealand domestic record nine sixes as he finished on 101 not
Sunday's final certainly has some extra starch added and
Canterbury reminded Auckland that they won't have it all
their own way.
Central Districts and Wellington meet in New Plymouth
tomorrow (weds) with both sides keen to avoid the wooden
- Daniel Richardson of APNZ