Half-centuries to Willie Wright and Jacob Naylor led Celtic to their eighth successive Twenty20 title with a seven-wicket win over Timaru at Aorangi Oval last night.
Wright compiled an unbeaten 56, while Naylor struck the winning runs to end on 52 not out as they continued Celtic’s dominance in the shortest form of the game.
Timaru batted first and made it through to 137-8 with a number of batsmen chipping in throughout the innings.
Josh Smallridge made 17 before he guided one into the gloves of Wright, while Prabodha Arthavidu made 15 before hitting one to Andy Scott on the long off boundary.
Sam Porter (25) and Supashela Jayathilake (31) went about setting Celtic a promising total and put on a 33-run partnership but when the latter chipped one back to spinner Sam Carlaw, the wheels began to fall off the Timaru innings.
Celtic began to put pressure on their opponents, who were forced into making some risky calls between the wickets, leading to three run outs.
Tom Pavletich was instrumental in two of those with some sharp pick-ups and good throws to dismiss Porter and Nanayakkara while seasoned veteran Grant Watt produced a fantastic bit of fielding to find Sam Robinson short of his ground.
A couple of late blows by Jeremy Smallridge off the final over helped Timaru through to a somewhat defendable score of 136.
Carlaw starred with the ball with 2-30 while Ben Watson and James and Dan Laming picked up a wicket each.
Timaru needed to strike early to be in with a chance of ending Celtic’s title reign and that is exactly what they did.
Adam Beck, Dan Laming and Carlaw all fell in the first six overs, leaving the remaining Celtic batsmen with plenty of work to do.
Wright constructed his innings beautifully, accelerating when required and picking what bowlers to target, while Naylor came in and played with freedom from ball one.
Timaru missed a number of run out opportunities, although they were unlucky to have one go against them as Naylor was short of his ground but given not out.
Jayathilake bowled well for Timaru with figures of 1-21 but they were unable to stop Celtic winning with 11 balls remaining.