About the Match
Otago and Auckland will battle it out in the 1st Preliminary Final match of the Georgie Pie Super Smash on 11th December at New Plymouth. While Otago topped the table with 26 points, Auckland came in second with 24 points. Both teams have performed well in recent outings, demolishing the opponent to win matches and secure a place in the prelims; they will definitely come out all guns blazing in order to make it to the next stage.
Their recent win against Northern Districts by 56 runs has definitely boosted their confidence to take on tough teams in the prelim final stage; Michael Bracewell posted a quick fire 54 off 39 balls to help build the innings along with Neesham, who scored and unbeaten 49. Earlier, Kitchen and Rutherford started the batting well to put up a 58-run opening stand; the bowlers defended 178 runs easily as Kitchen claimed 3-31 while Wells and Nathan McCullum took 2 wickets each.
When they met Auckland last time, the opponent had won the match by just 1 run after they failed to score 156 runs; this time around, Otago will be prepared to bring out their fine performance which brought them to the top of the table. Against Wellington, they had won the match by 19 runs after posting a superb total of 181 runs batting first; Bracewell had yet again proved his skills with a brilliant half-century while Brad Wilson has contributed with a well-made 67 from just 46 balls.
Sam Wells, Duffy,Kitchen, Nathan McCullum and Scott are in good form with their wicket-taking abilities; if the batsmen can post a solid foundation either while batting first or during chase, they will surely overcome the challenges to make it to the finals.
They lost their last encounter against Wellington by 7 wickets after managing only 109 runs batting first; bowlers failed to defend the lowly target as only McClenaghan and Nethula took a wicket each and they lost the match with almost 5 overs to spare. Except Munro, who scored 28 runs, and Nethula who contributed with 27 runs in the end, the others failed to step up to their responsibilities with the bat.
However, against Northern Districts, they had won handsomely by 37 runs after scoring a massive target of 191 runs batting first; Martin Guptill is a very important asset for their batting line-up and he smashed 63 off 46 in that match. Munro went on to post a heroic 82 from just 39 balls to help his team amass a huge total on board. The bowlers did their job well as Nicol took 3-37 and McClenaghan and Nethula claimed 2 wickets apiece. Grobbelaar, Ferguson and Bates provide good variety to the attack and they will be raring to go in the upcoming match.
Overall, their team has solid batsmen like Guptill, Munro, Cachopa and O’Donnell, who can fire away the big runs to take their team home safely.
While Otago goes into the next match at the back of a win, Auckland has recently suffered defeat in a big way, which exposes some of their weaknesses; the contest could either way but we feel Otago is better placed to emerge victorious on Friday