They say cricket's a funny game and if that's the case then
Twenty20 is downright bizarre at times.
Seven days ago Wellington looked an impressive unit as they
breezed past Canterbury in their opening HRV Cup game, but
tonight (fri) they were given a stern lesson by Auckland at
Auckland are an intriguing-looking side on paper. They're
full of former internationals, players who never quite made
the big time and a couple of up-and-comers.
Tonight they also boasted Australian Brad Hodge who flew in
for a one-off guest appearance.
But, whatever coach Paul Strang tells his side in their team
meetings it obviously sticks because Auckland have won the
HRV Cup for the past two years and tonight's five-wicket win
indicated they will be a force again this summer.
Auckland won the toss and elected to field on a breezy
Wellington evening and they had the home side under the pump
from the second over.
Jesse Ryder hit the first two balls of the innings for four
but after that there was a steady precession of wickets as
only little-known Australian import Cameron Borgas put up any
major resistance for Wellington.
The 29-year-old stroked a vital 50 before he was eventually
dismissed by left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan who was
impressive as he picked up 3-18 from four overs.
Debutant Scott Kuggeleijn was the only other Wellington
batsman to provide much work for the scorers as he swung his
way to 24, but it was all too little too late as the
Firebirds were bowled out on the final ball of their innings
Auckland made sure they got their moneys worth out of Hodge,
as he was summoned to the bowling crease to wheel down his
part-time off-spinners and the 37-year-old returned figures
of 3-16 from three overs.
A total like 116 was never going to be much of an obstacle
for Auckland and former international Lou Vincent made a
well-struck 45 from 46 balls to lay the platform for the
visitors, while Hodge chipped in with 22.
Wellington import Shaun Tait produced a few thunderous
deliveries and was clocked at 144kph by the speed ball radar
at the ground as he took 2-33 to give Auckland's chase the
Eventually though, Colin de Grandhomme and Craig Cachopa
finished off the game in the 18th over, but not before the
small crowd were given a treat when Colin Munro struck a
towering six that landed on the roof of Westpac Stadium.
Short scoreboard: Wellington 116 (Cameron Borgas 50, Scott
Kuggeleijn 24; Brad Hodge 3-16, Mitchell McClenaghan 3-18)
lost to Auckland 117-5 (Lou Vincent 45, Brad Hodge 22; Luke
Woodcock 2-28, Shaun Tait 2-33) by 5 wickets.
- Daniel Richardson of APNZ