Firebirds fall by one run to Otago

Otago Volts 167-6 in 20 overs (Anaru Kitchen 52, Neil Broom 34, Jimmy Neesham 24-4) beat the Wellington Firebirds (Michael Bracewell 60, Devon Conway 47, Christi Viljoen 23-4) by one run at the Basin Reserve, Wellington.

The Volts got up against the Firebirds in a last-over thriller in a match that had everything – spectacular hitting, classy bowling and a large sun drenched crowd on the Basin banks lapping up the action.

The first innings was a titanic struggle between Firebirds’ fine bowling that came up hard against the Volts’ aggressive approach.

Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom added 20 for the first wicket at a great clip before Bennett caught Rutherford for nine from Ollie Newton.

Broom carried on regardless with a typically cunning and brutal innings, always looking for a chance to swing for the boundary. He peeled off a six and three fours before departing for 34 from 27, to a fine low catch by Hamish Bennett at mid off.

Anaru Kitchen played the dominant hand with Broom, and then Shawn Hicks. It took a running diving catch by Michael Bracewell in the deep to remove him for 52 from 34. In the same Jimmy Neesham over Hicks went for a ramp that didn’t come off and departed for 22 to bring two new men to the crease at a critical time.

Worcestershire import Ben Cox (13) and Michael Rippon (23) settled themselves, then hit out with field-piercing fours and several over the top. Rippon was caught by Michael Pollard from the penultimate ball, as the Volts got through to 167-6.

Michael Bracewell and Devon Conway came out like they had somewhere else to be – from the start they put on a show for the large crowd on the bank. The Volts attack had no answer to the fine placement with reverse sweeps, cracking drives between fielders or sweet strikes down the ground.

The breakthrough came when Broom scooped up Bracewell in the covers for 60 and sparked a Firebirds collapse. Adam Hose went for just one, followed quickly by Conway (run out for 47) and Tom Blundell (bowled by Jacob Duffy for one).

Jimmy Neesham was Christi Viljoen’s third victim when he could only parry a short ball to keeper Cox for ten, then Pollard became the fourth, caught behind for two.

Needing nine an over for the last five, Luke Woodcock and Ollie Newton struggled to find the boundaries they needed until Newton put Viljoen high on the bank for six in his last over.

Needing 18 from the last two, Duffy bowled Newton for 17, before Nathan Smith was thrown the ball for the last with six needed to win. After a couple of singles, Jeetan Patel hit the second to last ball high in the air to Cox behind the stumps. Three were needed from the last and in a desperate scramble Woodcock was run out to hand the visitors the win by one run.

The result puts the Volts on top with two wins from two, while the Firebirds drop to fifth in the early stages of the competition.