About the Match
The Burger King Super Smash 2017-18 has got off to an exciting start and we can expect more of the same when the defending champions, Wellington Firebirds, start their campaign against the Northern District Knights. Both the teams are stacked with some very accomplished T20 players that will want to hit the ground running.
Northern District Knights
The Northern Knights finished second from last in the previous edition of the competition but they were not too far off the pace from everyone else. Their four victories were just one short of what the three teams above them managed and that is how close this competition usually is.
For the Northern Knights to do well their batsmen must have an excellent season. We are looking at the likes of BJ Watling, Dean Brownlie, and Corey Anderson to provide them the runs this season with help from Daryl Mitchell down the order.
Bharat Popli will also probably get a place in the playing eleven and he will be interesting to watch as well. Popli had a breakout season a couple of years ago but has since struggled to follow that up with more performances on a regular basis.
With a relatively shallow batting pool for the Northern Knights, his contribution will once again be very crucial.
The Knights have a very decent bowling lineup with the likes of Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, and Jono Boult available. It is unclear if Corey Anderson will be bowling or will be playing only as a batsman. The powerful all-rounder has struggled with fitness issues and could be limiting his bowling in this tournament. If he does bowl, though, then that would be a big plus and help the balance of the team immeasurably.
The defending champions have added Samit Patel to their squad for the Super Smash 2017-18 and that will make them a much stronger team. The English all-rounder has been playing T20 cricket across the world with considerable success contributing with both the bat and ball on a regular basis.
The Firebirds also have Grant Elliot, another very capable all-rounder now doing the T20 circuit rounds, and Jeetan Patel, who was one of the most effective bowlers in the NatWest T20 Blast this year.
With explosive batsmen like Luke Ronchi at the top of the order followed by Hamish Marshall, Tom Blundell, and Michael Papps, the Firebirds will go into this match as firm favorites.
The addition of Samit Patel should also allow the Firebirds to find a competent fifth bowler, something that struggled with last year. Brent Arnell was the highest wicket-taker for the Firebirds last season, and the entire tournament, he will be expected to lead the bowling with support from Hamish Bennett this time as well.
The Firebirds look like a well-balanced side on paper with plenty of quality players. We think their batting may be a tad unpredictable which can be compensated for by their bowling lineup and the chance that one or two players may have an exceptional tournament.
Pitch and Conditions
The weather in Hamilton is predicted to be sunny with only a 10% chance of rain. The winds will be strong and could affect the ends from which bowlers choose to bowl from. We expect to see a flat batting pitch with plenty of boundaries hit. A score of around 170 should be considered par.
The last five matches between the Northern Knights and the Wellington Firebirds have seen the Knights win three to hold a slight edge. The last encounter between them was won by the Firebirds in emphatic fashion as they chased down 175 with 9 wickets in hand.
We are backing the defending champs to start off on a winning note in this tournament.
Back the Wellington Firebirds to win