About the Match
The Auckland Aces are playing the Firebirds on either side of Christmas this year and they will be hoping that they can bring some cheer to their fans. The Aces have an opportunity to win back to back games against the defending champions and join the Northern Knights at the top of the table. As far as the Wellington Firebirds go, this season is turning out t be a lot more difficult for them than last year and they need to get some consistency in their game fast.
The Wellington Firebirds traveled to Auckland and played one of the most exciting games of this season in which over 400 runs were scored. The Firebirds batted first to score an impressive 206 thanks to a brilliant century from Luke Ronchi but could not stop the Auckland Aces from chasing down the target off the last ball.
The small turnaround time means that the Wellington Firebirds do not have much time to dwell on the victory and must back themselves to do just that little bit better the next time around. Luke Ronchi had an immediate impact playing his first game of the Super Smash and can be expected to continue having a huge role to play further in this tournament.
We don’t think it is wise to back him to score big runs straight after scoring a century because going on such streaks in T20 cricket is rare. The Firebirds have a solid middle order thanks to the presence of Samit Patel and Michael Bracewell, while Hamish Marshall at the top of the order has also looked very dangerous.
Apart from Luke Ronchi, who scored his runs at a strike rate of 221.73, all the other Wellington batsmen were around the 100.00-125.00 mark. We think the inability of their batsmen to rotate the strike against Nethula will be exploited with more spin up front in the next game.
The Firebirds would have back their bowling to be able to defend a total of 206 on most days especially with Jeetan Patel and Samit Patel in such good form. While Samit Patel has taken 5 wickets in the tournament so far, Jeetan Patel has been giving away runs at less than 6.00 per over.
We continue to back the bowling lineup of the Wellington Firebirds to do well in this tournament because one bad day does not make them all poor bowlers overnight.
The Aces were considerably strengthened for this game thanks to the availability of Martin Guptill for this game. As someone who is easily the country’s best limited-overs batsman, the mere presence of Guptill can give his team a lift and that is exactly what happened.
Guptill made 29 runs from 22 balls but was involved in an excellent partnership with Mark Chapman who stunned the crowd with his 64 off 24 deliveries including 5 sixes. It was this partnership that set the base for the chase although one cannot discount the fifty that Sam Curran made from 27 deliveries down the order.
With Glenn Phillips also in form, Colin Munro possibly available as well, and Tarun Nethula picking wickets with ease in almost every match, this Auckland Aces team has the quality to win the championship this year.
Even the middle order of Cachopa, O’Donnell, and Horne has plenty of firepower and the ability to provide runs should some of the more heralded runs fail in one match. Outscoring this Auckland team has been difficult in the tournament so far and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
The bowling attack of the Auckland Aces missed Lockie Ferguson away on international duty but Lister, Curran, Horne, Nethula, and Nidamunuru form a pretty decent attack on most days. Sam Curran took a real pasting in this match going for 54 runs from his four overs. His form with the ball will be very crucial in this return fixture.
Pitch and Conditions
A lot of rain has been forecast in Wellington on match day and we could be denied the opportunity to see these two teams go at each other for the second in time in two days. The pitch at the Basin Reserve will help the fast bowlers generate some movement if some amount of play is possible while the heavy outfield could make run scoring a little difficult as well.
The Wellington Firebirds have beaten the Auckland Aces in three out of the last five matches including the three played before their last defeat. This year, though, the Aces seem to hold the upper hand in this rivalry.
Back the Auckland Aces to win