In the end, it turned out to be a hiding. Chasing 179 for victory, Northern Knights were all out for 92 in 16.4 overs, losing their Champions League T20 match against Hobart Hurricanes by 86 runs at Raipur on Tuesday. After four wins on the bounce, the Kiwis had a bad day in the office and it was their first defeat in this edition of the tournament.
Removing Kane Williamson early was the key and for a change, the Knights’ most consistent performer played a poor shot. It was a mindless slog to a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery that pitched short and Xavier Doherty had a simple catch at mid-off. Daniel Flynn was out next ball to a beauty as Hilfenhaus made one jag back into the left-hander, bowling the skipper through the gate. Although he didn’t get a hattrick, Hilfenhaus did claim a third wicket later in BJ Watling, who missed a full-toss and was caught plumb in front.
The seamer returned with the figures of three for 14 in four overs — his career best in this format of the game. Anton Devcich, the first man to go, fell to stunner at point by Ben Laughlin off Joe Mennie. The Knights were reduced to 19 for four after 6.4 overs and that was the end of the story. Doug Bollinger’s three wickets in one over – Jono Boult, Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee – completed the formality.
Earlier, a 100-run partnership between Aiden Blizzard and Shoaib Malik in 8.2 overs changed the complexion of the game. It had been a sedate start by the Hurricanes after being sent in on a slow and low wicket. The power-play overs saw only three fours and fetched 29 runs at the cost of Ben Dunk’s wicket.
Skipper Tim Paine tried to up the ante in the tenth over, hitting Scott Kuggeleijn for three fours. But he was dismissed in the next as leg-spinner Sodhi deceived him in flight and forced a mistimed shot to Trent Boult at long-off. Blizzard (62, 43 balls; 8X4) was fresh from his match-winning effort (78 not out, 48 balls) against Cape Cobras in the last game. But here he got a reprieve on two, when Sodhi couldn’t hold on to a relatively simple caught and bowled chance. It cost his side dear.
Brief scores: Hobart Hurricanes 178/3 in 20 overs (A Blizzard 62, S Malik 45 n.o, SC Kuggeleijn 1/22); Northern Districts 92 in 16.4 overs (S Styris 37, T Southee 21, B Hilfenhaus 3/14, D Bollinger 3/22)