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A win for Auckland Aces pushed them into the top-four teams of the tournament and the Kings into the bottom two. And that has split the table wide open as far as qualification for the playoffs is concerned. Right above Auckland Aces are Central Dsitricts, who will be looking to bounce back to the winning way when they take field against the Volts in their upcoming encounter. The match between the two sides is to be played at McLean Park, Napier, on 2nd January. This will be the first match of the year for both the sides and they'd both like to begin their year on a happy note. Otago Volts are in a pretty good position as far as qualification for the next round is concerned and the Stags need to push hard to be there. Considering the stakes, this encounter promises to be a high-voltage encounter.
No team had a start to the tournament as good as what the Central Stags had. They won both of their first two matches and were comfortably placed at the top of the table before their downslide began. As it stands now, they are placed at the third spot on the ladder with just two wins in total. They are coming on the back of three back to back losses and would need something special to get past the Volts in the upcoming fixture.
The major problem for the Stags in the previous few outings has been their batting, which seemed to come alright against the Aces. In the matches against Canterbury Kings and Wellington Firebirds, they were restricted to the totals of 134 and 154 runs respectively. Their batting, however, finally found form as they collecitvely smashed 208 runs, albeit in vain.
Against the Aces, they were set a target of 211 to win the match and even though they looked on course to chase down the total, a reasonably good bowling effort from the Aces left Stags wanting for more. George Worker and Tom Bruce hit splendid fifties with contributions of 62 and 67 runs respectively. All in all, the Stags are a pretty good unit that has so far failed to fire collectively. Their batting looked good against the Aces and with bowling already doing well, they can present a tough challenge for the Volts.
George Worker, Dane Cleaver, Christian Leopard, Tom Bruce, Josh Clarkson, KN Barnett, Willem Ludick, Ben Wheeler, Ryan Watson, Ajaz Patel, Blair Tickner.
Otago Volts have been doing pretty well in the tournament and are rightfully placed at the top spot on the ladder. Another couple of wins should be enough for them to reserve a playoff berth and that is exactly what they'll be aiming for when they take on Central Districts in this upcoming fixture.
As of now, they have 18 spots to their name, two points clear of Wellington Firebirds, and their net run-rate of 1.12 reflects the dominance they have showed in the tournament so far. Their only loss came three matches ago when they were defeated by the Firebirds in a remarkably close contest, which the Volts lost by one run.
The Volts are coming off a superb win, which not only pushed them to the top spot on the ladder, but also boosted their net run-rate by a significant margin. Batting first in ideal batting conditions, the Volts' batsmen wreaked havoc on Kings' bowling as they racked up a tall total of 190 runs batting first.
Their bowlers ensured that the chase does not go smoothly for the Kings. Anaru Kitchen and Michael Rae were the pick of their bowlers as they picked up five wickets between them at the expense of 45 runs. With able support from the other bowlers, they restricted Canterbury Kings to a total of just 139.
Hamish Rutherford, NT Broom, Nick Kelly, Anaru Kitchen, Joshua Finnie, MJ Rippon, Dale Phillips, Travis Muller, Jacob Duffy, Max Chu, Michael Rae.
Both the sides are in pretty good position as far as qualification for the next round is concerned, but the Stags need to get some wins under their belt. They have been listless in their last three matches with their both batting as well as showing inconsistency. On the contrary, Otago Volts have been the best team in the tournament and are, therefore, our pick to emerge on top in this all-important match of the tournament.
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