Taita will get a second crack at taking home the CricHQ T20 Knockout Cup when they meet Petone-Eastbourne in a rematch of last year’s final at the Basin Reserve. The side will be quick to forget last year’s final which saw them look like they were cruising to a win before the match went to a super over and Jesse Ryder stole the show. This year there sees the absence of Jesse Ryder, but there will be no lack of motivation for a Petone side hell bent on making it 2 from 2 in the annual tournament.
Taita captain Mark Houghton believes his side has grown from last season and holds no demons about meeting the same opposition in the final. “Looking back at last year has the potential to distract us from this year’s game. We’ve also got four changes from the side that took the field last year, so for them, there’s no baggage.” The new players have been refreshing for Taita this season and have helped them to be competitive in all 3 formats so far. Their run to the final has been a bit of a different one though as up until their semi-final they hadn’t played a lot of cricket. Joining at the round of 16 stage the side easily accounted for cross town rivals Naenae bowling them out for 64 and chasing it down without the loss of a wicket. Their quarter final was on one of Wellington’s glorious summer days, and was moved indoors for a bowl out where they beat Johnsonville 5-3. They finally got a competitive game when they took on Hutt Districts in their semi-final last week. They started well before collapsing in the middle overs and leaving themselves 30 runs short of what they would have hoped for. They turned on a great bowling performance, which restricted Hutt to 112 and gave Taita their second shot at the title. Apart from their key player in South African Obus Pienaar, there is no lack big hitting ability in a side that features Phil Tunnicliffe, Mitchell Scott and Henry Walsh. Their bowling stocks are well loaded as well with Houghton, Patrick Smith and Matt Kelly. Liam Sullivan has also been a key figure in the bowling lineup for the side.
Petone will be buoyed by returning to the venue where they won the inaugural tournament last season. However, skipper Sam Blandford is not letting his side get too carried away on last year’s win, stating, “It’s great that there is a rematch between the sides, however both sides are quite different to last year.” It shows the side will not be complacent by any stretch of the imagination. This year’s Petone-Eastbourne side have had arguably the harder run to the final. They started their defence of the title with a 3 run victory over Eastern Suburbs in a game they probably should have lost. Things didn’t get any easier when they drew Wellington Collegians in the quarter finals. They turned in a good performance on the Thursday evening, winning by 6 wickets. They met Onslow in the semi-final which turned into a roller coaster affair, with chances for both sides to snatch the game. Ultimately they came out on top and will be back on Wednesday to defend their title. Paul Bascand and Kishen Velani have both been in great form with the bat, while Kieran Butler and BJ Crook turned the semi-final in Petone’s favour.
The match starts at 4:30 at the Basin Reserve on Wednesday 22nd February. The runners-up will take home $500, the MVP will take home $1,000 and the winning team will take home $2,500 along with the title.