The Wellington Firebirds have booked a place in Sunday’s Georgie Pie Super Smash final after easily beating the Knights in Hamilton tonight.
Bowler-friendly conditions aided the Firebirds bowlers to restrict the Knights to just 124 in an innings which saw not a single six hit mixed within some fairly questionable decisions by the Knights batsmen along the way.
Two poor decisions which led to Knights wickets stand out from tonights preliminary final.
Opening batsmen Brad Wilson attempted to charge down the crease to hit Jeetan Patel out of the park, instead he clean missed the ball and was easy picking for the stumping by Firebirds keeper Michael Papps.
Not only was it a poor out for a batsmen of his calibre, but a poor decision given how early it was in the innings.
The problems out in the middle continued when Travis Birt was run out for just 2 runs after he failed to get back into his crease in what was a questionable choice for a second run in the first place.
Knights captain Daniel Flynn couldn’t continue his fine Georgie Pie Super Smash form, holding out in the field for 19.
But for a valiant fighting partnership between all rounders Daryl Mitchell and Scott Kuggeleijn at the close of the innings, the Knights would have pushed the record for one of their lowest ever totals in Twenty20 cricket.
Mitchell was the top scorer for the Knights, ending on a highly respectable 36 runs.
In the run chase, the Firebirds got off to a rocketing start unlike their fellow North Island rivals.
Reaching 50 runs in the first 6 overs, Michael Papps batted the Knights out of the fight early in the run chase after Papps carted Scott Kuggeleijn around Seddon Park for a massive over somewhere in the region of 20 runs plus.
Various miss-fields didn’t help the cause, and with ten overs remaining in the match, the Firebirds were cruising to what would be one of their easiest victories of the competition. Stephen Murdoch joined Papps to forge a partnership of over 50 runs, batting the Knights out of the game easily.
Papps powered to a half century, and helped the Firebirds to secure the match well in hand with plenty of overs to spare.
Trying to smash Kuggeleijn for a second over in successive spells, Papps hit the ball straight to Daniel Flynn to be dismissed for a match-winning knock of 65.
But the damage was done, and the Firebirds went onto win with a gallop leaving 8 wickets left in the shed.
The Georgie Pie Super Smash is not yet over for the Northern Knights however, though morale will be low after the performance on the park tonight.
The Knights were average, their loss was comprehensive, and it was easily the worst performance of the season thus far.
Tomorrow the Knights will play Auckland in a sudden death playoff game which if they win, will qualify for the Grand Final on Sunday against the team they lost to tonight, the Wellington Firebirds.