Conway class as Firebirds fly

Wellington Firebirds 221-3 in 20 overs (Conway 105*, Tom Blundell 79, Rachin Ravindra 3-32) beat the Otago Volts 210-8 in 20 overs (Neil Broom 65, Hamish Rutherford 44, Nathan Smith 1-43) by 11 runs at University f Otago Oval, Dunedin.

Scorecard

A fine century from Devon Conway has led the Wellington Firebirds to a vital 11-run victory over the Otago Volts at the University of Otago Oval in Dunedin.

In a must-win match for both sides the Firebirds started well – Hamish Bennett winning the toss and electing to bat first on what looked like a belter of pitch.

The Firebirds openers Conway and Michael Bracewell got into their work early, racing to 32 off the first three overs, before Bracewell was removed by Christi Viljoen for seven after a good catch from Anaru Kitchen.

The wicket did nothing to stop the Firebirds batting onslaught as Conway and Tom Blundell, who had been elevated to number three in the absence of Adam Hose, continued dispatching the Volts bowlers around the University Oval.

Conway was the first to bring up his half-century off 30 balls, before Blundell reached his off 31 balls as the two began building a massive second wicket partnership.

With five overs to go and wickets in hand Conway and Blundell continued to find and clear the boundary regularly, taking 19 off a Christi Viljoen over and racing towards the 200 mark.

Blundell finally fell for 79 in the sixteenth over – caught in the deep by Anaru Kitchen off the bowling of Nathan Smith – and finally ending the 140-run partnership.

Jimmy Neesham joined Conway at the crease and anchored the innings as Conway carried on bludgeoning the Volts bowlers to the boundary reaching his century off 60 balls, carrying his bat and leading the Firebirds to a strong total of 221 runs.

Volts openers Hamish Ruterford and Neil Broom began their reply with intensity, smashing the Wellington bowlers to all corners of the ground before Rutherford fell for 44 to Rachin Ravindra on Super Smash debut.

The Volts still looked in control at 117 for one and requiring 105 to win off ten overs, but when Ben Raine fell for 13 and Neil Broom fell shortly after for 65 the Volts wheels began to fall off.

Anaru Kitchen offered some resurgence but couldn’t find a decent partner and when he fell himself for 27 the Volts were six for 173 and still 48 runs from a much-needed victory.

The debutant Ravindra continued his impressive debut with the ball, finishing with figures of three for 32, with strong support from the veteran Jeetan Patel (two for 29) and BLACKCAPS allrounder Jimmy Neesham (two for 29).

Despite losing wickets quickly Brad Wilson offered some late hope, but it wasn’t quite enough as the home side reached 210 from their 20 overs, the Firebirds victorious by 11 runs.

The Firebirds now return to the Basin Reserve to face the Central Stags on Friday afternoon in what is now a vital finals-decider clash.

The Volts will need to win when they face the bottom-of-the-ladder Canterbury Kings at Hagley Oval on Saturday.

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