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Central Stags off to a flier

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Fuseworks Media

The Taranaki tornado was back to his best as the Central Stags opened their Burger King Super Smash in brazen style with a stunning five-wicket T20 win over defending champions the Knights in Mount Maunganui.

Scorecard | Highlights

Now it’s home to Taradise and Pukekura Park for new captain Tom Bruce - fresh off his match-winning, career best unbeaten 88 of just 52 balls - as the Central Stags ready for another two huge encounters, against a star-studded Auckland Aces team tomorrow (29 December), followed by the consistent and dangerous Wellington Firebirds on New Year’s Eve.

Both matches are doubleheaders with the Central Hinds kicking off the entertainment at 12.45pm against the strong Auckland Hearts tomorrow, followed by the Stags centre stage at 4pm. The weather is coming to the party, gates open at 11.45am, and CDCA urges spectators to prepurchase their tickets via Ticketek and get through the gate in plenty of time to avoid missing any of the action - a large crowd expected for both days at the beloved park.

Operating at a strike rate of 162.93, Bruce’s dashing knock against a demanding Knights spin attack - that included BLACKCAPS Ish Sodhi and Mitch Santner putting on a slow bowling clinic through the middle overs - was the highlight as the Stags conducted a successful raid at Bay Oval for the second year on the bounce, and in a rematch between the Grand Finalists of last summer. Bruce smashed six fours and five sixes in his career best knock, in his first match at T20 captain. His unbeaten 88 eclipsed his previous T20 best of 82-, against the Otago Volts at Pukekura Park in 2015/16.

Twenty-year-old off-spinner Felix Murray, of Nelson, meanwhile made a successful T20 debut for the Stags at Bay Oval, bowling fellow spinner Santner for a two-ball duck to claim his maiden wicket.

Taranaki’s Bruce and Will Young have both been named in the squad to play a potent line-up set to feature Martin Guptill, Glenn Phillips and Colin Munro at the top of the Auckland Aces order, as well as BLACKCAPS quick Lockie Ferguson and dangerman Mark Chapman.

"We’re expecting a big contest obviously so having a lot of home support around us will be ideal," says Bruce. "It was good to start with a win, but it certainly wasn’t a polished one and we’ll be looking to lift our game tomorrow, especially in the field."

Tomorrow’s match is also set to be the 50th T20 Central Stags cap for Seth Rance whose experience, venom and swing in the shortest format will be crucial to containing the Aces at the top.

For the Central Hinds, Taranaki local Taila Hurley has been added to an otherwise unchanged squad, taking the squad to 13 as Anlo van Deventer’s young side looks to home advantage at a ground tailor-made for the women’s game, still seeking a first win in the competition.

Gates will open at 11.45am on both the 29 and 31 December and tickets get supporters into both the Hinds’ and Stags’ game on the respective days. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Ticketek or at the gate with every ticket bought online winning an instant prize as well as going into a draw for weekly prizes - and a Grand Prize draw for a $4000 trip to the Burger King Super Smash Grand Final.

BURGER KING SUPER SMASH

Saturday 29 December 2018

Pukekura Park | New Plymouth

12.45pm - Central Hinds v Auckland Hearts

4pm - Central Stags v Auckland Acews

CENTRAL HINDS Dec 29 Squad of 13 - one addition

Anlo van Deventer (c) - Wairarapa

Georgia Atkinson -Wairarapa

Kate Baxter - Taranaki

Emily Cunningham - Taranaki

Natalie Dodd - (w) - Taranaki

Claudia Green - Nelson

Mikaela Greig - Manawatū

Taila Hurley - Taranaki

Esther Lanser - Wairarapa

Rosemary Mair - Hawke’s Bay

Hannah Rowe - (v-c) Manawatū

Kerry Tomlinson - Wairarapa

Jess Watkin -- Wanganui

Head Coach - Jamie Watkins

CENTRAL STAGS Dec 29 Squad of 13 - unchanged

Tom Bruce (c) - Taranaki

Doug Bracewell - Hawke’s Bay

Josh Clarkson - Nelson

Dane Cleaver (w) - Manawatū

Christian Leopard - Hawke’s Bay

Willem Ludick - potential T20 debut - Nelson

Felix Murray - potential T20 debut - Nelson

Kieran Noema-Barnett - Hawke’s Bay

Seth Rance - Wairarapa

Blair Tickner - Hawke’s Bay

Ben Wheeler - Marlborough

George Worker - Manawatū

Will Young - Taranaki

Head Coach - Heinrich Malan

Livescoring: visit nzc.nz

Twitter updates: @CentralStags and @CDCricket

Instagram updates: @CentralHinds and @CentralStags

Official hashtags: #BKSuperSmash #CentralHinds #LoveTheStags

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