About the Match
Otago will be bowing out of the competition as they continue to be at the bottom of the table with only 6 points so far; they will go up against 2nd placeholders Auckland in the last match of the league before the playoffs at Auckland on 14th January. Auckland has 24 points and has done well to climb up the ladder with their consistent performance; being the hosts here, they will have the upper hand on Sunday and would leave no stone unturned to continue with their winning momentum. Otago, on the other hand, will be eager to register a face-saving win before bidding goodbye to the series this year.
Auckland defeated Canterbury by 4 wickets in the last game and will be motivated to keep their good run before the knock-outs. The bowlers did a commendable to restrict the opponents to 145 thanks to spinner Ronnie Hira’s superb 4-26 and good contributions by Sam Curran, Ben Lister, Donavan Grobbelaar and Colin de Grandhomme, who took a wicket each at regular intervals. Robert O’Donnell and captain Craig Cachopa took reins of the chase and steered the team across the finish line by pitching in with 55 and 41 runs respectively. Mark Chapman and Sean Solia also did well and they kept the scoreboard ticking; Auckland’s win has boosted the team’s morale and they could put up a tough fight.
Against Northern Knights, the batsmen put up a good show by posting 202 runs batting first; Mark Chapman top-scored with 57 off 30 while Sean Solia, Glenn Phillips built the foundation by scoring 31 and 24 runs respectively. Sam Curran posted 48 off 25 while Robert O’Donnell scored a run-a-ball 21, helping them amass 202 on board. Later, the bowlers tried to defend the total but despite a 2-wicket haul each by Ben Lister and Ronnie Hira, they lost the match by 6 wickets.
Auckland has proved to be a strong unit and they have defeated Otago earlier by 7 wickets; with the home advantage on their side, Auckland is clear favorites here.
They could muster only 147 runs batting first after Hamish Rutherford posted 51 runs; Shawn Hicks and Derek de Boorder tried to keep the scoreboard ticking but they had no support from others like Neil Broom and Rob Nicol. The bowlers had a tough task at hand and they failed to defend the humble total; Ben Lockrose, Warner Barnes, and Rob Nicol took a wicket each, but it wasn’t enough to stop Auckland from winning the contest.
Against Central Districts recently, they were all-out for 99 while chasing a humungous target of 218; Hamish Rutherford and Michael Rippon down at No.8 scored 20+ runs each but others fell without a fight. Matthew Bacon did well earlier with the ball, taking 4 wickets in an economical manner while pacer Michael Rae dismissed 3 opponents. Michael Rippon and Neil Wagner took a wicket each, but they couldn’t stop the Stags from smashing away 217 runs.
Otago has not performed well throughout the series, and they will be desperate to finish off the season with a win to redeem themselves.
Otago has good resources at hand, but they haven’t combined well as a unit to win matches; Auckland is a formidable force to reckon with and with the home advantage, they are clear favorites to win here.