Vettori stars in Knights second win
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 pair of enthralling victories 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 in both matches with bat and ball as his side beat the Otago Volts and Central Stags to take the State Twenty20 competition lead.
In the afternoon's first clash, 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, along with 37 from Greg Todd and Craig Cumming's 33.
Vettori was experience personified in mixing up his pace to take 2-19, then blasted 39 from 31 in the opening role as the Knights easily chased the sub-par total for the loss of five wickets.
The Black Caps captain followed that up with 1-23 and smashed 47 off 33 balls in the second match, an unlikely six-wicket win to Northern when chasing down the Stags' imposing 185-4.
It seemed he would be overshadowed by national team-mate Ross Taylor, who bludgeoned 111 not out off just 64 balls with 11 fours and three sixes.
But Vettori got the ball rolling, Daniel Flynn's 37 carried on the momentum and Peter McGlashan's unorthodox style earned him an unbeaten 47 as the Knights grabbed an unlikely victory with two balls to spare.
Despite the fireworks in the upper half of the North Island, Canterbury went out of its way to disprove Twenty20 cricket as an entertainment package in losing a seven-wicket snorer in 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.
The Knights are now on 12 points after four rounds and on course for the final on February 3. The Stags, Wizards and Firebirds are scrapping it on in equal second on eight, while the Aces and Volts look unlikely chances on four.