About the Match
Otago slipped down to the 4th position after two consecutive defeats against Canterbury in recent outings; they have 12 points now in their kitty and will look to make a comeback when they meet Wellington, which continues to be at the bottom of the table with 8 points, on 28th December at Alexandra. Wellington did well to win two games in a row against Auckland to come out of its losing streak but they lost the last game against the Stags after a dismal performance with the bat. Both teams will be determined to fight back and improve their standings on the table with a win here.
The usual hard-hitters like Anaru Kitchen and Hamish Rutherford failed to fire against Canterbury while chasing 153 runs; Michael Bracewell, Finnie, Brad Wilson and Christi Viljoen tried to revive the innings but they fell short of the target by 16 runs. Earlier, the bowlers did well to take regular wickets with speedsters Neil Wagner and Sam Wells taking 2 wickets each while Christi Viljoen, Nathan Smith and spinner Anaru Kitchen took one scalp each to restrict the opponents. However, the batting line-up crumbled under pressure a second time and lost the match.
In the previous game against Canterbury, fast-bowlers James Neesham and Christi Viljoen had taken 2 wickets apiece while Kitchen and Wagner provided quick breakthroughs to stifle the opposition to 157. However, Hamish Rutherford and Michael Bracewell’s 38 runs each weren’t good enough to take the team across the finish line. Neil Broom, Anaru Kitchen and others down the line couldn’t build steady partnerships and will need to pull up their socks in the upcoming game.
Overall, they have good resources with bat and ball, which could try to come out with all the firepower in order to change the team’s fortunes in this crucial juncture.
They did well to win the two matches against erstwhile table-toppers Auckland after a tremendous show by the batsmen, who posted stiff challenges; however, their recent defeat against Central Districts came as a setback again. Batting first, players like Grant Elliott, Stephen Murdoch and Tom Blundell kept the runs flowing after the early dismissals of captain Hamish Marshall and opener Michael Papps; however, they could muster only 133 runs after the lower order failed to fire. The bowlers had an uphill climb defending the low total and they lost the match by 6 wickets.
Against Auckland, the top-order had failed to build a good foundation, leaving the burden to wicket-keeper batsman Blundell and middle-order player Michael Pollard, who scored 61 and 74 runs respectively. With help from Anurag Verma down the line, they took the total to 182, which the bowlers defended successfully to win the match by a narrow 2 runs.
The bowling unit has spinners like Luke Woodcock and Jeetan Patel while speedsters like Brent Arnel, Anurag Verma, Elliott and Matt Taylor add depth to the attack. If the batsmen could focus on building strong partnerships, then surely they can make a much-needed comeback here.
Although both teams come here at the back of a loss, we feel that Otago has better batting strength that could challenge the Wellington bowlers and emerge victorious here on Wednesday.