Bears favourite Jeetan Patel added more silverware to his growing collection as Wellington Firebirds lifted the McDonald’s Super Smash Trophy, the domestic T20 competition in New Zealand.
While Birmingham Bears skipper Ian Bell is busy underpinning Perth Scorchers’ strong progress in the Big Bash in Australia, Patel was pivotal to the Firebirds’ glory with a major all-round contribution to their 13-run final victory over Central Stags.
Batting first, the Firebirds were struggling at 114 for seven in the 16th over when Patel went to the crease only for him to fire his hometown club to a hefty 172 for seven with a furious assault in the closing overs.
Patel struck 28 from just 11 balls, three of which went for six, in a stand of 58 in 25 balls with Matt Taylor (48, 25 balls).
Then after the Stags’ reply hit early trouble at six for three, their attempts to recover were thwarted by Patel’s four tight mid-innings overs which brought him one for 35.
The Stags finished on 159 for eight as the Firebirds (who jokingly refer to themselves as “Dad’s Army” with five players aged 36 or over) completed a remarkable triumph. They looked out of the race early in the group phase in which they lost their first four matches, but seven wins from the last eight games took them through – and their momentum carried them all the way to the trophy.
“It just comes down to belief,” said Patel, whose spell of two for 22 had also been crucial to the Firebirds’ semi-final win over Canterbury. “We have been through some adversity with losing guys along the way, but I’m so proud of these guys.
“Matt and I put on a partnership that I wouldn’t say changed the game, but it certainly gave us momentum and then we bowled so well up front. To get three wickets in three overs and go on from there was fantastic.”
Patel’s winner’s medal adds further to a great few months for the Bears ace. He ended last season by helping Warwickshire lift the Royal London Cup at Lord’s and also collected the Most Valuable Player Award for his all-round prowess for the Bears during the season, form which earned him a recall to the New Zealand Test team in October.
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