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Wellington Firebirds Retain New Zealand's National T20 Title

IANS News
By IANS News
February 13, 2021 • 20:11 PM View: 465

Earlier, Bowes (36 off 21) had played a key role with the bat for the Kings in a 65-run second-wicket stand with Mitchell (35 off 24) as they laid a platform for their side before McConchie played yet another captain's knock to top score with 44 across the back 12 overs.

The class of Mitchell had been a big loss after he looped leg-spinner Peter Younghusband (2-25) into Conway's sharp hands and the Firebirds began fighting their way back with tight bowling producing three wickets in 11 balls.

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Spinner Bracewell had put himself on an unconverted hat-trick in the unsettling 14th, Leo Carter caught and then claiming the big wicket of Cam Fletcher -- fresh off a New Zealand fifth-wicket record with Mitchell in the Elimination Final, but gone on Saturday for no score after a false stroke produced a return catch. The captain bowled himself for the solitary over for figures of 2-3.

But the Kings got a boost when Henry Shipley, in just his second game of the campaign, strode in and smacked 29 off just 15 balls, caning Neesham for two sixes before the all-rounder answered back with his wicket in the 17-run 18th.

With just two balls left in the innings, van Beek (3-28) finally put a stop to McConchie, then put himself on a hat-trick after a fine diving catch from Troy Johnson removed Matt Henry as well. Todd Astle poked away a single to avoid becoming the third victim on the last ball of the innings as the Kings walked in with a workable total to defend.

The Firebirds had needed almost nine an over from the outset and, while the early loss of the prolific Allen and then Blundell was a double blow, Troy Johnson injected a quick 28 to give the Firebirds a momentum boost at a key moment in the chase.

With three overs to go, a new man in all-rounder Jamie Gibson at the crease, and death bowler Will Williams taking a deep breath as he came back into the attack, the result still hung in the balance - a neck and neck contest with the Firebirds needing 29 off the final three overs.

But with his fourth consecutive half-century - 50, 61 not out, 91 not out, and now 93 not out, Conway could be relied upon to loft the ball over cover when it counted. He would bat masterfully throughout the innings, calmly navigating a frantic last couple of overs from the Kings the saw fielders colliding, and runs scrambled, to steer his side to the championship - unbeaten off 63 balls as he hit the winning runs.

Allen and Conway finish as the top two men's batsmen in the league this season, with 512 runs from 11 innings (6 half-centuries) and 455 from 10 innings (5 half-centuries) respectively, while Central Stag Blair Tickner remained the top wicket-taker with 17 from 11 games at 20.53, ahead of Matt Henry's 14 from 11 at 24.64.

The Canterbury drought would continue for at least another year.



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