Daniel Vettori lived up to his status as one of the world's pre-eminent Twenty20 cricketers as he led the Northern Knights to a six-wicket win over Otago in Hamilton.
The man who had the lowest economy rate and the fifth highest wicket tally at last year's Twenty 20 World tournament starred with bat as well as ball as his all-round efforts were the difference between two evenly-balanced teams.
Batting first, the Volts managed 146-6 thanks to Vettori's Black Caps team-mate Brendon McCullum's 44 off 25 balls including five fours and two sixes.
Craig Cumming was another national player to shine with 33, while Greg Todd chipped in with 37.
Vettori was experience personified in mixing up his pace to take 2-19. Northern used half its overs with left-arm spin and Bruce Martin was also miserly with 2-23.
The Black Caps captain then blasted 39 from 31 in the opening role, while four team-mates passed 25 and ensured the Knights always looked on track for what was a sub-par total.
Brad Scott showed why he was picked for the Twenty 20 World competition by snaring Englishman Andrew Strauss's wicket for just two after dropping him the over before, while Cumming's dribbly medium pace snared 2-25.
The Knights are in action again against the Central Stags, but will be hard-pressed to match their first effort after Ross Taylor's scintillating 111 not out guided his side to a formidable 188-4.
In Wellington, Canterbury went a long way to disproving Twenty20 cricket as an entertainment package as it lost a seven-wicket snorer to Wellington.
Winning the toss and batting first, the Wizards managed just 114-6 as only Peter Fulton's 31 off 29 balls came at better than a run-a-ball.
Johann Myburgh scored 31 but was laboured in doing so, and his side scored at less than five an over after Chris Harris departed for one after 10.2 overs.
Spin was the key as Black Caps offie Jeetan Patel's flight and guile earned him 3-17, while Englishman Graham Napier took 1-22.
Although Stephen Fleming (7) and Grant Elliot (0) departed within three balls, brothers Neal and Michael Parlane eased the Firebirds towards victory with a third-wicket stand of 66.
Michael fell to Shane Bond's bowling for 37, but Neal finished unbeaten on 44 and, in combination with Jesse Ryder's 19 not out, put his side over the line with two and a half overs remaining.