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Another week has gone by in Burger King Super Smash and the competition is getting more intense in the middle of the points table as we approach the business end of the tournament. Northern Knights have been the side to beat in the tournament and have already reserved themselves a spot in the semifinals with a win over Canterbury Kings in their last encounter. Auckland Aces and Otago Volts are set to meet each other on 20th January at Auckland. Both the sides have an identical number of points and are separated only by their net run rate. The winner of this game will jump to the second spot in the points table whereas the losing team will join Wellington Firebirds at the second spot from the bottom, assuming Northern Knights register a win in their upcoming win against Central Stags.
Ever since registering a couple of victories earlier in the competition, Wellington Firebirds have looked a dismal team, to say the least. Their last failure was against Auckland Aces where they failed to even survive for 20 overs. The Aces eventually chased down the total with plenty of deliveries to spare.
Bowling first after losing the toss, the Aces didn't get the early wickets they were looking for with Mitchell McClenaghan going for plenty. Will Sommerville was impressive in the two overs he bowled upfront and conceded just 15. The surprise package of the day was the spell from Colin Munro post which the Aces assumed the control of the match which was sliding out of their hands. The Firebirds slid from 68 for 2 to 108 for 7 and were eventually all-out for 122. Colin Munro happened to be the star of the night - not as much with the bat, but definitely with the ball.
Chasing a smallish total on a smallish ground, it should have been a pretty straight-forward chase. While Martin Guptill's first ball duck followed by Glenn Phillips wicket which left Auckland tottering at 16 for 2 would have arisen a few hopes in Firebirds' camp, the excellent partnership between Colin Munro and Mark Chapman almost saw the Aces through. Finally, the Aces over-hauled the target with six wickets in hand.
Daniel Bell-Drummond, GD Phillips, Mark Chapman, Craig Cachopa, Robert O'Donnell, Donovan Grobbelaar, Ronnie Hira, W Somerville, MJ Mcclenaghan, Matthew Quinn, Graeme Beghin.
Otago Volts experienced two washouts in their last three matches and a humiliating loss between those two washouts wouldn't have left them too happy. On top of that, they've tasted success only once in their last five matches which speaks volumes about the form they've been in.
Their last match was against Auckland Aces which was cut short when rain arrived with Auckland Aces speeding ahead with 117 for 1 after 11 overs. Barring Jacob Duffy who conceded just 11 for 1, none of their bowlers found it easy to bowl to Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips. Ben Raine was the most expensive bowlers as he conceded 30 runs off his two overs.
In their earlier game, against Central Districts, Otago's bowlers struggled to contain Stags' batsmen and were thrashed for a total of 208 runs. Batting wasn't at par either as they lost that match by a massive margin of 54 runs.
Hamish Rutherford, Shawn Hicks, Anaru Kitchen, Ben Raine, Joshua Finnie, Ben Cox, Nathan Smith, BS Wilson, C Viljoen, Jacob Duffy, Tasman Jones.
In the recent games, Otago Volts have had absolutely nothing going for them. Their bowlers looked clueless against Auckland Aces before the match was called off due to relentless rain. The Aces, on the other hand, are strengthened by the return of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro into the side and considering the form they've been in, even their presence at the crease will put pressure on the opposition's bowlers. Although the Aces are at the similar position on the ladder, they've been more consistent and have played better cricket as compared to Otago Volts in the tournament so far. To add to that, the Aces appear to be a better side on paper and therefore, along with the above-mentioned reasons, they are better placed to emerge on top against Otago Volts in the upcoming fixture at home.
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