Central Stags beat Knights in Grand Final to win Super Smash

Central Stags 147-8 in 20 overs (Dean Foxcroft 63, Kyle Abbott 2-29, Ish Sodhi 2-30) beat the Knights 80 all out in 14.4 overs (Ajaz Patel 3-24, Adam Milne 3-12, Doug Bracewell 2-10) by 67 runs at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

Dean Foxcroft's 63 runs and a strong performance in the field has led the Central Stags a 67 run win and the Burger King Super Smash title at Seddon Park this afternoon.

Batting first, their 147-8 looked light, but their attack never let the Knights batters get traction, taking wickets and applying serious scoreboard pressure, dismissing the Knights for 80 runs in the 15th over.

Scorecard

The Knights welcomed back Tim Southee and Mitchell Santner from BLACKCAPS duty, but Kyle Abbott did the early damage, removing openers Will Young for a duck and George Worker for 13.

Coming in at three, Dean Foxcroft was the only batsman in the match to score over 18, playing a well-timed innings by pushing singles and twos into space, and hitting seven fours and two sixes high onto the bank.

The Knights fielding was sharp, with Tim Seifert taking four catches behind the stumps, and Daniel Flynn and Tim Southee both taking tough chances to keep the pressure on.

Foxcroft ended on 63 from 50 balls, going in the 16th over to a fine Tim Southee caught and bowled. Adam Milne (14) and Ajaz Patel (12) contributed vital runs in the closing overs.

Abbott (2-29), Ish Sodhi (2-30) and Santner (2-23 from three) were the standouts with the ball as the Stags made 147-8 from their 20.

Nick Kelly (4) went in the second over, and Seifert looked in good touch early but skied Adam Milne to Dane Cleaver when he was on 18.

The Central Stags bowlers were miserly defending the low total - and the pressure brought wickets. Several of the Knights batsmen came undone going for the big shots, with Dean Brownlie (15), Corey Anderson (2) and Daniel Flynn (7) all caught on the rope.

Wickets tumbled and the end came quickly at the close - Ajaz Patel took 3-24, Adam Milne 3-12 and Doug Bracewell returned 2-10 as well as grabbing three catches, as the Stags claimed the title by 67 runs.


We're hosting the Grand Final on Sunday February 17!

The Knights are in the Burger King Super Smash Grand Final after finishing top of the points table after the round-robin phase of the competition.

It was a finals battle that went right the way to the final round, with the Auckland Aces finishing level on points with the Knights with 28 each. The Knights finished first through virtue of their superior net run rate to the Aces.

Finishing first also means that the Knights will host the Grand Final on Sunday, February 17 at 4.10pm. They will play the winner of Friday's Elimination Final between the Auckland Aces and Central Stags, which will be hosted at Eden Park Outer Oval at 4.10pm.

Tickets for the Burger King Super Smash Grand Final go on sale Wednesday, February 13 and can be purchased by clicking here.

Knights leading Finals scramble ahead of last round

The Knights are back on home turf tomorrow as they look to secure a first-place finish and Grand Final hosting rights in the last round of the Burger King Super Smash.

While the three sides advancing to the Finals are confirmed, the final placings are still wide-open.

The Grand Final can only be hosted by the Knights or the Auckland Aces, while the Elimination Final could be hosted by either of these sides, or the Central Stags.

The Knights are sitting in the box seat and can only be pipped for first-place if they lose heavily tomorrow and the Auckland Aces secure a big victory over the Central Stags.

This means that the Knights will be hosting a Final of some description next week.

Tomorrow's match at Bay Oval is also the last at the venue in what has been a busy 2018/19 season, and Tauranga-local and Knights captain, Dean Brownlie, is excited at the prospect of playing at the Mount once again.

"It's great that we get the chance to secure a home Grand Final in front of our crowd at Bay Oval," said Brownlie.

"They've had a lot of cricket over the summer, hopefully they turn up one last time and help us try to reach the Grand Final."

Brownlie did however illustrate that the Knights still have a job to do in tomorrow's match and that a Grand Final is by no means secured.

"We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves though. Thoughts are on tomorrow's match and nullifying the threat of Otago," Brownlie said of tomorrow's game.

"They've played some good cricket but maybe haven't had that slice of luck you sometimes need to get the results, so we know we'll have to be at the top of our game to try take the element of luck out of the equation."

BUY TICKETS TO THE MATCH HERE: https://bit.ly/2Ei4NcK

KNIGHTS BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND TEN V OTAGO VOLTS - SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2019, 7.10pm, BAY OVAL

Dean Brownlie (c)

Kyle Abbott

Corey Anderson

Peter Bocock

Joe Carter

Daniel Flynn

Zak Gibson

Brett Hampton

Nick Kelly

Tarun Nethula

Neil Wagner

Joe Walker

BJ Watling

Knights run Aces close in Auckland

Knights 196-8 in 20 overs (Nick Kelly 37, Daryl Mitchell 37) lost to Auckland Aces 197-4 in 19.2 overs (Craig Cachopa 60, Colin Munro 54, Robbie O'Donnell 45) by six wickets at Eden Park Outer Oval, Auckland.

The Auckland Aces pulled off a perfectly timed chase to chase down the Knight's formidable 196-8 with six wickets and four balls up their sleeve. Colin Munro (54), Craig Cachopa (60) and Robbie O'Donnell (45 from 26) were the standouts as the Aces moved to second on the table, confirmed their spot in the Burger King Super Smash finals and maintained their momentum against the first placed Knights.

Scorecard

After the Aces put the visitors in, Nick Kelly (37) and Dean Brownlie (33) went on the attack hard from the start - after taking time to play themselves in, both cut loose and lifted the run rate to almost 12 an over, peppering Sandringham Road with some big sixes over the leg side.

There were some wobbles when Kelly, Brownlie and Brett Hampton all went out while adding just nine runs, but Daryl Mitchell (37) and Corey Anderson went on the counter-attack to get momentum back. Between them they hit some massive sixes straight down the ground, before Munro got his second crucial wicket of the match when Roneel Hira caught Anderson for 36.

Peter Bocock took on the attack to strike 27 from 13 at the end, with the Knights taking 14 from the last over from Mitchell McClenaghan to make it through to 196-8.

Colin Munro showed great concentration to play himself into form, scoring steadily before hitting out, bringing up his 50 with a cracking drive through the covers. He was joined by his skipper in the seventh with ten an over needed - the pair played it steady until Munro was caught by Brownlie from Scott Kuggeleijn at cover for 54 in the 11th.

From there, Cachopa and Robbie O'Donnell made a partnership of 98 to reel in the big total, taking singles everywhere and taking only calculated risks for boundaries.

The Knights were guilty of too many wides heading into the death overs - Daryl Mitchell conceded 12 from the 19th over, leaving six needed off the last - despite Kyle Abbot bowling Cachopa for 60, Daniel Bell-Drummond hit the winning runs through fine leg to get the Aces home and claim the win by six wickets.


Grand Final spot beckons for Knights

By the end of tomorrow evening the Knights may well have secured first-place in the Burger King Super Smash and hosting rights to a second consecutive Grand Final.

The Knights make the short trip north for a clash with the other in-form side in the Super Smash, the Auckland Aces.

Victory over the Aces means the Knights will establish an unassailable lead at the top of the Super Smash with only one round to come.

It is another first versus second match-up for the Knights after the Aces moved into second spot on the ladder courtesy of their big win over the Canterbury Kings and the Central Stags' heavy loss to the Knights last weekend.

Last week's victory at McLean Park was the Knights' best performance of the season to date, as they posted their highest Super Smash and T20 score of 230 before dismissing the Stags for 99.

The Knights will need to replicate this performance if they are to achieve a positive result against the resurgent Aces, who have recovered from a slow start involving several abandoned matches.

It is a traditionally tight fixture with 23 matches between the sides resulting in 11 wins for the Knights and 12 for the Aces.

The Knights have the upper-hand in recent meetings however, winning their last four matches on the bounce against the Aucklanders.

Helping the Knights' cause is the return of Ish Sodhi to the squad, who has been in camp with the BLACKCAPS for the ODI series with India.

This strengthens the Knights' spin bowling options with Sodhi complementing Tarun Nethula, who claimed 6-23 in a brilliant performance against the Stags; the best T20 figures for the Knights.

KNIGHTS BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND NINE V AUCKLAND ACES - SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2019, 4.10pm, EDEN PARK OUTER OVAL

Dean Brownlie (c)

Kyle Abbott

Corey Anderson

Peter Bocock

Daniel Flynn

Brett Hampton

Nick Kelly

Scott Kuggeleijn

Daryl Mitchell

Tarun Nethula

Tim Seifert

Ish Sodhi

Neil Wagner


Mitchell makes BLACKCAPS alongside strong Knights contingent

Knights batting all-rounder Daryl Mitchell has earned his maiden call-up to the BLACKCAPS T20 squad for the three-match series against India, starting in Wellington on Wednesday.

Mitchell has been included in the squad after a strong Burger King Super Smash campaign and some solid form for New Zealand A in one-day cricket.

BLACKCAPS selector Gavin Larsen said Mitchell had won over the selectors on the back of impressive performances for the Knights, the most recent of which saw him smash 61 off just 23 balls against the Stags in Napier.

"Daryl has been rewarded for the strong form he's produced in domestic cricket," said Larsen.

"He's been there or thereabouts for most of the season and featured in our NZ A short-format teams.

"Daryl has shown his value with the bat and also tends to bowl at some tough times for the Knights."

Mitchell adds to a strong Knights presence in the squad, with Kane Williamson, Colin de Grandhomme, Scott Kuggeleijn, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee also included in the BLACKCAPS.

Other changes to the most recent T20 outing against Sri Lanka include the return of captain Kane Williamson in place of Henry Nicholls.

The three-game series against India will be double-headers alongside the WHITE FERNS and India women, who will play beforehand on the same pitch.

BLACKCAPS T20 squad v India

Kane Williamson (c)

Doug Bracewell

Colin de Grandhomme

Lockie Ferguson (Games 1 & 2) 

Martin Guptill

Scott Kuggeleijn

Daryl Mitchell

Colin Munro

Mitchell Santner

Tim Seifert (wk)

Ish Sodhi

Tim Southee

Ross Taylor

Blair Tickner (Game 3)

Stag hunt

Knights 230-5 in 20 overs (Brett Hampton 64, Daryl Mitchell 61, Blair Tickner 2-37) beat the Central Stags (99 all out, Tarun Nethula 6-23) by 131 runs at McLean Park, Napier.

In a match which pitted first against second in the Burger King Super Smash, the Knights made a big statement with the finals just around the corner, producing a brilliant display with bat and ball to defeat the Central Stags by 131 runs.

Scorecard

The day started well for the Central Stags when skipper Tom Bruce won the toss and told the Knights to pad up. Bruce, who was also donning the keeping gloves in the absence of the injured Dane Cleaver, then helped the Stags get off to the perfect start by stumping Nick Kelly for a duck off the bowling of Dean Foxcroft.

Knights skipper Dean Brownlie then joined Tim Seifert at the crease and the two set about putting the early wicket behind them, building a 70-run partnership before Ajaz Patel had Seifert caught for 35. Brownlie fell 24 runs later for 40, with the score at 95-3 in the 12th over.

While the platform was somewhat laid, no one could have anticipated the onslaught that ensued when Daryl Mitchell joined Brett Hampton at the crease. 34 breath-taking balls later, Hampton and Mitchell had added 98 runs before Hampton fell for 64 off 31 balls, which included two massive sixes which left McLean Park.

Mitchell then continued the carnage after Hampton's departure, bringing up his own half-century off just 20 balls. He would eventually fall in the final over to Blair Tickner, the pick of the Stags bowlers with 2/37, for 61 off 23 balls. Corey Anderson and Scott Kuggeleijn saw the innings through to its conclusion, with the Knights scoring a whopping 230-5 off their 20 overs - the highest score in the Super Smash this season.

The Stags knew they had to make a fast start but as with the Knights innings, they lost a wicket in the first over, Will Young trapped in front lbw for 1 by Neil Wagner. It got worse for the Stags in the following over when Young's opening partner George Worker chopped-on from Kuggeleijn.

If the Knights hadn't already made the perfect start, they certainly had 11 balls later as Kuggeleijn removed the Super Smash's top run-scorer and their nemesis in the return fixture earlier in the season, Tom Bruce, caught-behind for four. The sixth over saw the departure of Kieran Noema-Barnett with a beautiful yorker from Wagner sending his stumps cartwheeling. The Stags had found themselves 42-4 and their chase seemingly over before it had begun; Dean Foxcroft providing the only resistance to be 18*.

The match was then all about Tarun Nethula, whose wonderful spell of spin bowling combined with the Stags' need for fast runs provided the catalyst for Nethula to achieve career-best Super Smash bowling figures: 3.1 overs, 23 runs for 6 wickets.

He removed Stags' top-scorer Foxcroft for 23, taking a catch off his own bowling before removing Josh Clarkson, who also made 23. He removed Wilem Ludick three balls later, before taking two wickets in successive balls in his next over, giving Nethula his five-for and leaving him on a hat-trick.

The Stags managed to deny Nethula his hat-trick, but he took the final wicket with the first ball of his next over, giving him his incredible figures and ending the Stags innings after 85 balls which yielded 99 runs; giving the Knights a massive victory by 131 runs.

The result means the Knights are now guaranteed a first or second-place finish with two matches to go. They could be confirmed as first-place finishers this weekend, should the Auckland Aces fail to beat the Canterbury Kings.

While it was a tough outing for the Stags, their fate is still in their own hands and they will finish second if they win their two remaining matches.


Crunch game as first meets second at McLean Park

McLean Park will host the biggest Burger King Super Smash match this season when the Knights travel to Napier for a battle with the Central Stags.

It is a match which pits the two front-runners of the competition against each other, with the Knights holding a six-point lead on the Central Stags.

The match looks certain to be an entertaining one, with three of the last four Super Smash innings at McLean Park yielding more than 200 runs.

This includes the Central Stags passing 200 on each occasion, meaning the Knights will need to be at their best with the ball and in the field to restrict their opposition.

The Central Stags are also the only side to have beaten the Knights this season when they emerged victorious by five wickets at Bay Oval.

All this means the Knights are well-aware of the challenge ahead of them, however they can take great confidence in their own abilities and form.

The Knights are yet to lose on the road this season and have won five in a row.

Of further interest to the Knights will be the fact that this fixture has been won by the away side in three of the last four matches.

With just three rounds to go, a win for the Knights would all but guarantee them first-place and hosting rights for the Super Smash Grand Final, providing all the motivation required ahead of tomorrow's match.

KNIGHTS BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND EIGHT V CENTRAL STAGS - FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2019, 7.10pm, MCLEAN PARK

Dean Brownlie (c)

Kyle Abbott

Corey Anderson

Peter Bocock

Daniel Flynn

Brett Hampton

Nick Kelly

Scott Kuggeleijn

Daryl Mitchell

Tarun Nethula

Tim Seifert

Neil Wagner

Joe Walke

Katie Gurrey selected in WHITE FERNS T20 squad

Katie Gurrey has made the WHITE FERNS squad for the first time after being been selected in the T20 squad to play India Women next month.

Gurrey's selection is in recognition of her fantastic Burger King Super Smash campaign for the SkyCity Hamilton Northern Spirit, where she finished as the second-highest run-scorer with 298 runs, despite only batting seven innings - four less than first-placed Frankie Mackay, who scored 69 runs more with 367.

"When I received the call that I had made the squad I was on a lunch break from work. It's an amazing feeling and I am super excited for the opportunity to represent my country," said Gurrey on her selection.

Gurrey's amazing Super Smash campaign is further displayed by the fact that she scored the most fours in the competition (53), had the fourth-best strike-rate (121.14) and averaged 42.57; scoring four half-centuries from her seven innings.

So what does Gurrey attribute her form to?

"Walking out to the middle with confidence and aggression: these were key to me performing my role for the team; playing an attacking role from the start of the innings."

The Hallyburton Johnston Shield one-day competition is another stage where Gurrey has displayed her abilities, scoring a brilliant 102 against unbeaten competition-leaders, Auckland Hearts.

These performances made Gurrey hard to ignore, said WHITE FERNS head coach Haidee Tiffen.

"Katie can be proud of how she performed in the Burger King Super Smash," said Tiffen.

"We are rewarding players who are in form and we feel that Katie deserves a chance at the highest level."

When asked about what most-impressed her about Gurrey, Tiffen found it difficult to narrow it down to just one factor.

"Katie is a big striker of the cricket ball; she's an attacking batswomen and plays with a lot of courage," replied Tiffen.

ND cricket fans will have a chance to see Gurrey don the fern when the final match of the series comes to Hamilton's Seddon Park.


Knight fight

Knights 154-5 in 16 overs (Nick Kelly 56, Corey Anderson 38) beat Canterbury Kings 146-6 in 16 overs (Henry Nicholls 40, Cam Fletcher 38*, Corey Anderson 2-31) by six runs on Duckworth Lewis at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

The Knights' BLACKCAPS stacked team found a way to win against the Canterbury Kings at Seddon Park to move ten points clear at the top of the BK Super Smash table with three games to play in the regular season.

Powerful hitting from Corey Anderson and Nick Kelly, along with masterful death bowling from South African import Kyle Abbott and Daryl Mitchell gave the hosts a six run D/L win, and move them closer to returning to Hamilton for finals cricket.

Scorecard

Hamilton rain meant a stop-start beginning to the match. Tim Seifert (6) and Dean Brownlie (0) were in the shed early, before a double rainbow signaled the resumption of a rain-reduced sixteen over a side match.

Daryl Mitchell (8) went dramatically for obstructing the field. Kyle Jamieson attempted to throw down the stumps while fielding his own bowling, for the TV umpire review to rule Mitchell had stuck his leg in the way of ball and send him on his way.

Corey Anderson (38) and Nick Kelly (56) made up for lost time with some huge hits into the stands and innovative laps and pulls to bring the run rate up to almost ten immediately. When they both went with a few overs to go, Mitchell Santner was able to rattle up 26 from 13 to help the Knights to 154-5.

Santner then got a luckless Tom Latham to chop on from the first ball of the innings - the Kings struggled early until Henry Nicholls and Chad Bowes took 15 from an Ish Sodhi over to get the chase back on track.

Momentum was lost momentarily when Bowes (24) then Cole McConchie (3) both fell to the b. Anderson, c. Seifert combo. Nicholls was rollicking along until Sodhi got his revenge, drawing a false shot to Daniel Flynn in the gully for 40, then picked up Andy Ellis for 12 in the 9th over.

Cam Fletcher (38*) and Leo Carter (21) formed a vital partnership with seven overs left to keep pace with the run rate, running hard and taking boundaries regularly. They looked to be on target before Kyle Abbott conceded just five from the 15th over with some fine death bowling.

The Kings needed 14 from the last to win it - Mitchell was thrown the ball for his first over, and claimed Carter's wicket and conceded no boundaries, to give the Knights a hard-fought win by just six runs.

Knights welcome back BLACKCAPS for Seddon swansong

The Knights play their last Super Smash match of the regular season at Seddon Park when they take on the Canterbury Kings tomorrow evening.

The match is a replay of last Wednesday's thrilling encounter at Hagley Oval, where 390 runs were scored and the Knights triumphed by two wickets with two balls to spare.

The Knights are leading the competition and with two away fixtures and one more home match to come at Bay Oval, could yet return to Seddon Park if they secure a finals berth.

Playing at Seddon Park is an experience that Hamiltonian, Daryl Mitchell, always relishes.

"For me, Seddon Park is the best ground in the country," said Mitchell.

"It's a great ground to play at and usually the bank's pretty full, so any time we get to play there is awesome.

"It's where I grew up watching cricket as a little kid but to be fair, I was probably on the banks playing cricket rather than trying to watch!"

When asked about the possibility of returning to Seddon for a finals match, Mitchell was clear that there was still some way to go yet in the competition.

"Last year we were lucky enough to win the final in Hamilton and it was pretty cool having all our family and friends there to celebrate. It would be great to do it again but there's still a lot of work to do before then."

The Knights have named a strong squad for tomorrow's encounter, welcoming back four BLACKCAPS and giving a home debut to Kyle Abbott, who starred with the ball in Saturday's tense win over the Wellington Firebirds.

Kyle Abbott will be available for phone interviews between 4 - 4.30pm Tuesday, January 15. Contact Emily Jones (below) to arrange.

KNIGHTS BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND SEVEN V CANTERBURY KINGS - WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2019, 7.10pm, SEDDON PARK

Dean Brownlie (c)

Kyle Abbott

Corey Anderson

Peter Bocock

Daniel Flynn

Brett Hampton

Nick Kelly

Scott Kuggeleijn

Daryl Mitchell

Mitchell Santner

Tim Seifert

Ish Sodhi

Neil Wagner


Terrific Knights down Firebirds

Knights 157-7 in 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 49, Nick Kelly 45, Ollie Newton (3-26) beat Wellington Firebirds (Adam Hose 52, Kyle Abbott 2-19, Daryl Mitchell 2-19) by 12 runs at Basin Reserve, Wellington.

The first and second placed BK Super Smash teams produced a tense contest on a magnificent Wellington afternoon that went to the last over. Daryl Mitchell made a huge contribution with 49 runs and two early wickets as well as classy death bowling, with quality back up by debutant South African Kyle Abbott and Corey Anderson at the bowling crease.

The Knights extend their lead at the top of the table, moving to 20 points from six matches and look very strong for the playoffs.

Scorecard

The Knights, missing key players like Scott Kuggeleijn, Dean Brownlie and Anton Devcich made a bright start through Nick Kelly (45) and Daryl Mitchell, before losing wickets.

Ollie Newton (3-26) and Jeetan Patel (2-27) both showed how to get the most from a surface playing slightly slow, using all their variations to draw false shots and reaped the rewards.

Mitchell repeated his Hagley Oval trick of holding the Knights' innings together, counter-attacking with Daniel Flynn (25) to make 55 for the 5th wicket.

Mitchell was caught by Hamish Bennett one short of his half century, before canny death bowling from the Firebirds saw more wickets fall and no late fireworks from the visitors, who finished on 157-7.

South African import Kyle Abbot started with a wicket maiden, picking up danger man Michael Bracewell misjudging a lap shot for nine in the second over. That man Mitchell then got Conway caught at point for 14, and followed up by bowling debutant Troy Johnson for four.

Adam Hose (52) and Tom Blundell consolidated with a partnership of 64 that edged the Firebirds cautiously closer to the target. Abbot came back to trap Hose LBW, then Corey Anderson got Blundell caught in the deep for 38 and Logan van Beek for two in the same over with 27 still needed late on.

With 19 needed from the last, Michael Pollard and Ollie Newton found Mitchell's slower balls and off cutters elusive, falling short in the long shadows to give the Knights the win by 12 runs.


Kyle Abbott joins the Knights

The Knights have further bolstered stocks with a star international signing for tomorrow's Super Smash match against the Wellington Firebirds.

South African Kyle Abbott has joined the Knights ranks after the departure of Chris Jordan and is with the squad for the rest of the Super Smash campaign.

Former international Abbott brings a big reputation with him in all forms of cricket, including T20, where he has gained valuable experience across a number of leagues.

Within the last year, Abbott has played for Hampshire (England's Vitality Blast), Khulna Titans (Bangladesh Premier League), Lahore Qalandars (Pakistan Super League) and most recently, the Durban Heat (South African Mzansi Super League).

Abbott also has Indian Premier League experience, spending time with the King's XI Punjab.

"It's great to be in New Zealand and I'm looking forward to playing in the Super Smash," Abbott said on his arrival in the country.

Despite coming into a league that is already five matches old where other players have found their feet, Abbott is confident he will be able to adapt quickly.

"The body feels good and it helps that I'm already in T20 mode after my stint with the Durban Heat."

The goal for Abbott is to help build on the solid foundation that has been laid through the Knights achieving four victories from five matches.

"The team has done so well already, I'm just hoping I can contribute and help push us into the finals."

Spirit on a high

Canterbury Magicians 165-2 in 20 overs (Frances Mackay 58*, Kate Ebrahim 77*, Carolyn Esterhuizen 2-21) lost to Northern Spirit 167-5 in 19.1 overs (Katie Gurrey 55, Eimear Richardson 43) by five wickets at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.

In a match that went down the wire, the Spirit made the most of a good wicket and fast outfield to chase down the Magicians' formidable 165-2 and end their season on a high. Both sides batted outstandingly, but the Magicians were unable to take the wickets they needed late in the game, going down by five wickets.

Scorecard

After Carolyn Esterhuizen got the dangerous Kirsty Nation for a duck early on, Frankie Mackay picked up where she left off on Sunday, scoring 58 not out after being dropped in the 11th over by Alisha Rout.

She was joined by Kate Ebrahim, who went hard on the attack for an unbeaten 77, including a pair of monstrous sixes from Kate Anderson over square leg, as part of a 129 run partnership with her skipper.

If the Spirit were daunted by the large asking rate, they didn't show it. Katie Gurrey kept her spot at the top of the run scoring charts with 55 as part of a 66 run opening stand with Bernadine Bezuidenhout (17).

Frankie Mackay dragged her side back into the match, first getting Bezuidenhout caught at mid-on in the seventh over, then taking a brilliant catch to remove Gurrey at long-on in the 10th.

Anderson came and went quickly and with over eight an over still needed, Felicity Leydon-Davis (41*) and Eimear Richardson (43) hit out fearlessly and ran smart singles to tick off the runs required.

There were nervous moments when Mackay (2-25) removed Richardson and Samantha Curtis in successive balls in the 17th, but the Spirit went into the last over needing just three runs. Leydon-Davis stepped inside the line to hit Ebrahim's first ball for four and earn the win by five wickets.


Knights win tight one

Canterbury Kings 193-5 in 20 overs (Chad Bowes 67, Andrew Ellis 45) lost to the Knights 197-8 in 19.4 overs (Brett Hampton 55, Andrew Ellis 3-35) by two wickets at Hagley Oval.

Scorecard

The Knights extended their lead at the top of the BK Super Smash table with a two wicket win over the Canterbury Kings at Hagley Oval. The home team did everything but win, scoring 193-5 and taking eight wickets, but couldn't stop the Knights executing a finely judged chase.

Returning BLACKCAP Tom Latham had no luck, caught by Daryl Mitchell at point on the first ball of the game. In contrast, his opening partner Chad Bowes formed the backbone of the Kings' innings with 67 from 46 balls, batting through until the 16th over, having set his side up for a huge score.

The Knights called on seven bowlers as they tried to contain the onslaught, including English international Chris Jordan (2-36) and BLACKCAPS Mitchell Santner (1-23) and Neil Wagner, who conceded 0-27 from his two overs.

Bowes was supported by an aggressive Andrew Ellis, who plundered 45 from just 30 balls, Cole McConchie (24 from 14) and Cam Fletcher (22 from 14) as the Kings stormed to an intimidating 193-5.

The Knights struggled to get momentum, losing early wickets until Brett Hampton settled, then launched. He formed a dangerous partnership with Corey Anderson before Ellis claimed Anderson's wicket for 17, then Hampton's for 55 to bring new men to the crease when the pressure was on.

22 were needed from the last two overs, and Flynn, who'd been dropped by Fletcher, hit Ellis for six and was caught two balls later in a juggling catch by Jeremy Benton at a crucial time.

Jordan (17) hit two consecutive balls for four to leave the Knights needing five runs from the last over, before he was was promptly caught by Bowes in the deep.

Scott Kuggeleijn (7*) and Wagner (0*) were left to get the runs and with three from three needed, Kuggeleijn cooly hit Edward Nuttall for six to hand the Knights the win by two wickets.

Spirit duo in hunt for top run-scorer bragging rights

Katie Gurrey and Bernadine Bezuidenhout will have the chance to finish the Burger King Super Smash campaign as the competition's leading run-scorer when they play their final match against the Canterbury Magicians tomorrow at Hagley Oval.

Gurrey currently sits first with 243 runs, while Bezuidenhout is in second with 211 runs.

Along with runs scored, they sit near the top of several other batting charts.

They have the second and third-highest scores in the competition respectively; Gurrey with a top score of 79 and Bezuidenhout 77 not out, while Gurrey has hit the most fours (44) and Bezuidenhout the second-highest number of sixes (4).

Spirit head coach Kari Carswell is obviously pleased to have two in-form players opening the innings for her side.

"Katie and Bernadine are both quality players, so seeing them among the top run-scorers isn't a surprise," said Carswell.

"Building momentum in our innings is so much easier when you can rely on at least one of your openers to produce a good score.

"Hopefully they both score big tomorrow and help us end our Super Smash campaign with a win," added Carswell.

The Spirit have made great strides in the second half of the season, adding a couple of wins to their solitary victory in the first half of the competition.

Tomorrow's match is the last of the double-headers for the Northern Districts sides, with the Knights taking on the Canterbury Kings after the Spirit match.

The sides find themselves at opposite ends of the ladder, with the Knights sitting in first and the Kings propping up the table in sixth.

The Knights have been able to rely on performances from the whole squad, with different players delivering in each match.

Both teams will be desperate for a win; the Knights to consolidate their position, and the Kings to ensure they are not cut adrift as the competition nears the halfway mark.

The Knights have got the better of the Canterbury Kings in recent times, winning three of the last four matches between the sides, but the Kings perform well at home, having only lost one of their last seven home matches.

SKYCITY HAMILTON NORTHERN SPIRIT BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND TEN V CANTERBURY MAGICIANS - WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2019, 12.45pm, HAGLEY OVAL

Samantha Curtis (c)

Kate Anderson

Bernadine Bezuidenhout

Carolyn Esterhuizen

Katie Gurrey

Brooke Halliday

Mereana Hyde

Felicity Leydon-Davis

Lily Mulivai

Briana Perry

Eimear Richardson

Alisha Rout

KNIGHTS BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND FIVE V CANTERBURY KINGS - WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2019, 4.00pm, HAGLEY OVAL

Dean Brownlie (c)

Corey Anderson

Peter Bocock

Anton Devcich

Daniel Flynn

Brett Hampton

Chris Jordan

Scott Kuggeleijn

Daryl Mitchell

Tarun Nethula

Mitchell Santner

Neil Wagner

Hearts squeeze past Spirit

Auckland Hearts 148-5 in 20 overs (Arlene Kelly 41*, Alisha Rout 2-21) beat Northern Spirit 124-7 in 20 overs (Anna Peterson 1-20, Bernadine Bezuidenhout 77*) by 24 runs at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

A fine team performance from the Auckland Hearts was too much for the Northern Spirit at Seddon Park. Arlene Kelly's 41* and 1-22 with the ball was the stand out for the visitors, while Bernadine Bezuidenhout's fine 77* wasn't enough to get the Spirit home.

Scorecard

After a slightly unsteady start, Lauren Down (29) and Maddy Green (17)'s partnership for the second wicket got the Hearts off to a bright start before Green was caught in the deep trying to hit Anderson out of the park in the ninth over, followed by Down the next over.

Katey Perkins (29) and Holly Huddleston (15) supported Arlene Kelly's 41 not out from just 21 balls to keep the momentum up through to the finish.

Kelly climbed into the Spirit bowlers from the start, smashing boundaries all around the park including a big six down the ground from Kate Anderson, as the Hearts finished on 148-5.

In reply, Bernadine Bezuidenhout's 77* from 64 balls was the backbone of the Spirit's chase, but she struggled to find the partners required to chase down the target.

Bezuidenhout plundered seven fours and two sixes in her innings - but some excellent Hearts bowling and fielding forced three run outs, helping keep the pressure on the Spirit.

Kelly (1-22), Anna Peterson (1-20) and Roz McNeill (1-20 from three) all helped put the brakes on, and despite Bezuidenhout's heroics, the Hearts' total was always just too far out of reach.


Knights in flight pattern

Knights 155-9 in 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 78, Mitchell McClenaghan 3-23, Donovan Grobbelaar 3-29) beat Auckland Aces 153-9 in 20 overs (Craig Cachopa 39, Will Somerville 37, Scott Kuggeleijn 4-18) by two runs at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

The Knights return to the top of the BK Super Smash table with a two run win over the Aces that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Daryl Mitchell's 78 was the backbone of the home team's innings in the face of some hostile Aces bowling, while the Knights were able to take wickets at crucial times and take the win despite some late Will Somerville hitting.

Scorecard 

Mitchell McClenaghan (3-23) wrecked havoc at the top of the innings with a fiery display, removing dangerous Knights openers Anton Devcich LBW for six and and Dean Brownlie caught and bowled for 12.

Donovan Grobbelaar (3-29) picked up where McClenaghan left off, and was on a hat trick after removing Mitchell Santner (12) and Daniel Flynn (0) in successive balls.

As wickets continued to tumble in the lower order, Mitchell's 78 from just 51 balls proved crucial and his promotion to first drop proved a master stroke as the Knights were able to scramble to 155-9.

In reply, the Aces started brightly with Sean Solia (20) and Glenn Phillips (20) combining for 32 after losing James Vince early for one.

Mitchell Santer wrestled the momentum back for the home team by removing Phillips and Mark Champman in the ninth over - skipper Craig Cachopa then strode out to try and win the match in a hurry, hitting some huge blows as he raced to 39 from 17 before he was caught by Dean Brownlie in the covers from Devcich to deal the Aces' hopes a body blow.

Some late Somerville hitting almost provided a twist in the tale, but Scott Kuggeleijn, who had steamed in all day, took three wickets in the 17th over to end the contest and help his team back to the top of the table.


Chris Jordan returns for table-topping Knights

Chris Jordan has returned to the Knights and is in the squad for Sunday's home clash with the Auckland Aces at Seddon Park.

Jordan was a star of last season's competition and a favourite of the Knights faithful, helping them to the Super Smash title last season.

He returns to the Knights for two matches before heading to the Big Bash with the Sydney Thunder and is looking forward to being back in the Knights set-up.

"I'm so excited to be joining the Knights again," said Jordan.

"I had so much fun last year, especially winning the competition.

"I'm only here for two games, but hopefully I can have enough of an impact to help us go all the way again."

Jordan returns to a team who find themselves in familiar territory at the top of the table after three rounds.

Sunday's encounter promises to be a thriller, with plenty of runs scored across two tightly-fought encounters in last year's competition.

In the day's earlier match, the SkyCity Hamilton Northern Spirit will look to make it three on the bounce when they take on the Auckland Hearts.

The Spirit have played some quality cricket since the resumption of the competition, falling short in a close match against the Wellington Blaze before overcoming the Central Hinds and Otago Sparks in consecutive matches.

Head coach Kari Carswell said it was difficult to identify what factors had contributed to the Spirit's recent upturn in form.

"We haven't really changed too much to be honest. We've kept training hard, stuck to our plans and now we're starting to get our reward."

"We were playing some good cricket before but just not getting across the line in those matches, so maybe it's just that our luck has turned," added Carswell.

Sunday is the last home match of the campaign for the Spirit and with it, the last home double header; a feature of the calendar which Carswell said has been a great experience.

"Seeing the side play in front of these crowds, with the Knights playing straight after, has been amazing. You can't help but get caught up in the excitement of it all," said Carswell.

"It would be great to finish our home matches with another win and to keep climbing the table."

SKYCITY HAMILTON NORTHERN SPIRIT BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND NINE V AUCKLAND HEARTS - SUNDAY, JANUARY 6, 2019, 12.45pm

Samantha Curtis (c)

Kate Anderson

Bernadine Bezuidenhout

Carolyn Esterhuizen

Katie Gurrey

Brooke Halliday

Mereana Hyde

Felicity Leydon-Davis

Lily Mulivai

Brianna Perry

Eimear Richardson

Alisha Rout

Charlotte Sarsfield

KNIGHTS BURGER KING SUPER SMASH SQUAD - ROUND FOUR V AUCKLAND ACES - SUNDAY, JANUARY 6, 2019, 4.00pm

Dean Brownlie (c)

Corey Anderson

Peter Bocock

Anton Devcich

Daniel Flynn

Brett Hampton

Chris Jordan

Scott Kuggeleijn

Daryl Mitchell

Tarun Nethula

Mitchell Santner

Neil Wagner

A Knight captains, returns and debuts in latest BLACKCAPS squad

Knight Tim Southee will captain the BLACKCAPS T20 side in next Friday's one-off match against Sri Lanka, at Eden Park in Auckland.

With regular skipper Kane Williamson resting, Southee will lead the T20 team for the third time in his career.

He'll have the services of fellow Knight and spin bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner to call on, as the 26-year-old returns to the international fold following knee surgery in March.

BLACKCAPS Selector Gavin Larsen said it was an exciting stage of the season with so much white-ball cricket in store.

"A T20 International at Eden Park on a Friday night is always a big occasion and one the players will relish," said Larsen.

"Tim did a really good job leading the side against Pakistan and the West Indies last season and he's got a nice mix of proven performers and some fresh faces to work with.

"We're delighted to welcome Mitchell back into the BLACKCAPS environment and he's shown in his performances for the Knights in the BK Super Smash that he's ready for international cricket again."

With Knight Trent Boult taking a well-earned break, fellow Knights pace-bowler Scott Kuggeleijn has received his maiden T20 call-up, while all-rounder Jimmy Neesham has been selected with Knight Colin de Grandhomme resting.

"It's nice to have the luxury of freshening-up a few of our key guys following a long tour of the UAE and a fast transition into the home summer," said Larsen.

"That presents a great opportunity for the likes of Henry, Scott and Jimmy - who have all been performing strongly for their respective teams recently and deserve their chances should they come."

The Auckland Aces opening pair of Colin Munro and Martin Guptill will team up at the top of the order, while Knight Tim Seifert will continue as the short-form wicket-keeper.

Adam Milne and Knight Corey Anderson weren't considered for selection as they continue to get back to full fitness, while Todd Astle's rehabilitation is progressing well and he will likely return for the Canterbury Kings in the near future.

Craig McMillan will coach the side for the one-off match as Gary Stead takes a short break before the India series later this month.

BLACKCAPS T20 squad v Sri Lanka

Tim Southee (c) - Knights

Lockie Ferguson - Auckland Aces

Martin Guptill - Auckland Aces

Scott Kuggeleijn - Knights

Colin Munro - Auckland Aces

Jimmy Neesham - Wellington Firebirds

Henry Nicholls - Canterbury Kings

Glenn Phillips - Auckland Aces

Seth Rance - Central Stags

Mitchell Santner - Knights

Tim Seifert (wk) - Knights

Ish Sodhi - Knights

Ross Taylor - Central Stags

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