A nail-biting, last-ball, low-scoring thriller sent Northern to the top of the table after a right royal fight from the Kings - in a match no one could forget at Bay Oval.
Northern Brave captain Jeet Raval won toss and bowled in this evening game, and Trent Boult’s bounce soon got two wickets in his first spell in the power play.
In his home town, allrounder Brett Hampton had come into the side for this match - and when he came into the attack, he had a wicket second ball with dangerous Leo Carter comfortably caught in the deep.
Henry Nicholls had meanwhile got off to a fast start. He’d remained at his post through the early carnage, and now had a big resurrection job to do from 35/3 after 4.2 overs.
Sodhi came in at the seven-over mark, pumped up fresh off his head-turning economy in Auckland. He had the big wicket first over with Nicholls deceived, and the Kings in further trouble now at 55/4.
A great little battle between Sodhi (2-22) and his old mate Cam Fletcher ensued, but it was another spinner - Joe Walker’s entrance in the 11th - that really put the skids under Canterbury.
Walker went bang-bang with his second and third deliveries - and he should be sending Anurag Verma a card, if not a deluxe treat, for Christmas after Verma’s speccy of a catch to dismiss Kings skipper Cole McConchie: a fantastic, one-handed, backwards running, diving catch.
Walker added Todd Astle off his next over to finish with an excellent 3-13 off four as both the Walker brothers, and indeed Northern’s complete emsemble of spinners, continue to impress.
They relished the Bay Oval conditions, then Boult (2-21) came back early with the Kings eight down and still trying to get to 100 on the board.
Verma (2-26) struck twice in the 18th over to dismiss the disappointed Kings for just 107.
Matt Henry (1-8) was fired up to do his utmost to defend the low total, and impressively went for just three runs off his first three overs.
Katene Clarke negated that by carving quick Ed Nuttall for 29 off just the second over of the chase, however, including four consecutive sixes to blast Brave to a power start.
BANG BANG BANG BANG— Northern Districts (@ndcricket) December 23, 2021
Katene Clarke on one leg just smashed FOUR sixes in a row, including this epic crowd catch!
Catch all the action LIVE on @sparknzsport
Credit: Spark Sport#NDTogether #CricketNation #SuperSmash #NorthernBrave pic.twitter.com/hoJ8a6AY55
It was gutsy hitting, but a case of needs-must with the youngster clearly struggling to move after Nuttall had struck him a painful blow on the hip flexor first ball.
Clarke made it to 31 not out off just 11 balls before he retired hurt, Raval taking his place at 33/0 at the start of just the fourth over.
With the ball starting to swing under lights, the Kings will have been doubly frustrated by their modest total at this point.
Tim Seifert survived a massive appeal from Todd Astle on 14. A runout soon had Seifert stranded to give Astle some comfort, and Clarke's absence had softened the brutal strike rate. But little more than a run a ball was needed.
It was a strong bowling performance from the collective Kings that on any other night would have done the trick. Despite the best efforts of Kings wrist spinner Blake Coburn (2-16), and some nervous moments against Todd Astle who got Northern down to 83/5, the Kings just weren't playing with enough runs.
The Brave needed 15 off the last 12 which was still enough to test the nerves, Scott Kuggeleijn and Anurag Verma with the job.
A Blake Coburn diving screamer at backward point removed Kuggeleijn with 10 needed from seven, then Nuttall came back from the last and Matt Henry took a brilliant leaping catch on the boundary to make it 100/7: Boult joining Sodhi with eight needed from five.
Sodhi went big - and bust as the catch fell to the safe hands of Chad Bowe to put Nuttall on a hat-trick. Eight from four needed now, and Joe Walker walking out with a genuine mission suddenly facing the Brave batsmen.
Nuttall didn't get the hat-trick but he did get another wicket with the fourth ball of the over and Clarke had to hobble back out with seven needed from two and nine wicket down. Such drama! Could he give Nuttall more pain, or would it be the bowler's revenge?
Clarke squeezed a run, Boult now needing to hit a six to win off the last ball. Guess what? He swung hard and it went sailing high, high... and into the bank!
A nail-biting last-ball low-scoring thriller had sent Northern to the top of the table.
A Dream11 @SuperSmashNZ classic! Trent Boult hits a six off the last ball to give the @ndcricket Brave a one wicket win over the @CanterburyCrick Kings 🔥— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 23, 2021
See the scorecard at https://t.co/3YsfR1GstM and the NZC App 📲#SuperSmashNZ pic.twitter.com/NFp3aJ0fi7