Defending champions stay unbeaten

The Wellington Blaze and Firebirds made it a capital night in Napier after beating the Central Hinds and Stags by comfortable margins.

Blaze scorecard

Firebirds scorecard

At a chilly McLean Park - as an unseasonal southerly front swept up New Zealand, the Wellingtonians quickly adapted to the conditions for nine-wicket and 39-run victories respectively.

Blaze captain Maddy Green bowled first after winning the toss and her side made short work of hosts the Central Hinds who were restricted to an under par total of 88/9, among their 10 lowest totals in T20 matches.

Former WHITE FERN Thamsyn Newton starred in the field with her athleticism, grabbing two catches and a runout as well as taking 3-23 off her three overs while star spinner Melie Kerr again kept things in control with a tight 2-10 off her four overs, backed up by her skipper's 2-12 off three overs.

The Blaze chased down their target with almost seven overs to spare, opening bat Rebecca Burns having top-scored with a run-a-ball 42 in a 62-run stand with Green (22* off 25) before the skipper and Melie Kerr (20* off 12) walked it home.

Stags captain Tom Bruce also bowled first after winning the toss, but there would be little to celebrate in allrounder Josh Clarkson's 50th game and 20-year-old ex-NZ U19 World Cup star Joey Field's T20 debut.

Field (2-32) picked up his first two wickets in the format in his fourth and final over, with his maiden wicket BLACKCAP Devon Conway. But Conway had by then already dented the Stags' chances of containment with a nicely paced innings of 67 off 51 balls, taking the visitors into the 19th over at 150 for five.

Conway's calm at the top counterbalance the loss of early wickets after BLACKCAP Blair Tickner (2-30) had a hand in the first three wickets to fall, the Firebirds setting the Stags an 8.8 RPO run chase after finishing their set of 20 on 175 for seven.

George Worker, Bayley Wiggins, Dane Cleaver and Clarkson got starts in reply, but no one got the opportunity to escalate the way Conway had done - Wellington collectively keeping the pressure on with the ball as the required rate started to climb. The wickets were shared around the attack as Hamish Bennett led the way at the top with a fiery 2-20.

Legspinner Peter Younghusband dubbed Conway "Mr Consistent".

"He's a bit of a rock for us, it was a tough start on quite a slow bed. He showed good composure before finishing off nicely at the end."

Conway himself said the Firebirds thought anything above 160 would be a bonus.

"It was one of those wickets where slow balls held on the surface, so it wasn't easy to get going. This is a pretty short competition, so to get a win and keep the momentum going with two from two is pleasing."

The Central Stags and Hinds now head to New Plymouth for back-to-back doubleheaders against Northern and Auckland on 30 and 31 December, while the Wellington Blaze and Firebirds will look to keep their hot start going against Northern on New Year's Day at Bay Oval.

Article added: Monday 28 December 2020