The Knights became the second team to drop out of McDonald’s Super Smash contention after failing to storm the Kings’ castle, Hagley Oval, in their last-round match in a relatively tight nine-run loss.
One problem was that they had run smack bang into Tom Latham at his bruising best, the opener reaching a T20 career best 82 — against the Knights’ strong attack and all.
Needing to score at 8.1 per over to overhaul the Kings’ 161 for seven, the Knights for once lacked a solid opening partnership, losing Dean Brownlie and Nathan Reardon to loose strokes in a chase that just ran out of gas at 152 for seven, despite some solid efforts from BJ Watling, Daryl Mitchell, Tim Seifert and a desperate, 21-ball unbeaten 38 from a belligerent Scott Kuggeleijn at the death.
The Kings now need the Otago Volts to beat the Wellington Firebirds at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday to qualify for Thursday's 2 v 3 Final, unless results in both Auckland and Wellington conspire to boil final standings after 10 rounds down to net run rate.
The match was Ronnie Hira’s 100th T20, the former Kings spinner and captain coming out of retirement to don pink for the first time against his old side in what would prove to be a one-match season. His wicket was the 100th in domestic T20s for current Kings captain Andrew Ellis.