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We are almost halfway through the Burger King Super Smash and things are panning out beautifully. Barring Northern Knights, who are at the top of the table and seemingly running away from the pack, there's still intense competition between the rest of the sides for the playoff spots. Wellington Firebirds, Central Districts, and Otago Volts are all tied on 10 points in 5 games with only net run rate to separate them. Otago Volts will have a chance to take the second spot in the points table when they face Auckland Aces in their upcoming encounter which is to be played at Dunedin on 13th January. Auckland Aces have a chance to get along with everyone with ten points and are expected to come all guns blazing to get a win in the upcoming fixture.
Otago Volts started off their campaign in a superb fashion, but haven't really been able to carry on with the momentum they garnered by registering a win in their opening game. They were annihilated by Central Districts in their last game where they lost by a massive margin of 54 runs.
Prior to that match, they were defeated by Northern Knights in a low-scoring encounter which was followed by a wash-out against Central Stags. Their bowlers failed miserably at containing Central Districts batsmen in their last match as Districts amassed a total of 208 in the allotted 20 overs.
The Districts got off to a terrific start with Hunter, Kitchen, and Raine all going for runs in the powerplay overs. At one point of time, the Volts were staring at a target of more than 220, but thanks to some excellent execution of death bowling by Duffy and Smith they were restricted to 207. Jacob Duffy and Nathan Smith returned with the figures of 4-0-24-2 and 4-0-30-3 respectively. Michael Rippon conceded 54 runs in his four overs without any success and happened to be their most expensive bowler.
It is always difficult to chase totals in excess of 200 in a T20 match regardless of the surface or the size of the ground and it didn't prove to be any different at Napier. Otago Volts, in the quest of scoring quickly, lost their batsmen in bunches as none of their batsmen was able to impose himself. Surprisingly, the best contribution with the bat from their side came from Brad Wilson, their number nine, who scored 32 off 21 deliveries. All in all, the Volts have a well-balanced team, but some poor losses in the last couple of games have certainly affected their morale. They might well need one inspirational performance to get back on the track and their fans will be hoping that someone produces that on Sunday.
Hamish Rutherford, Shawn Hicks, Anaru Kitchen, Ben Raine, Ben Cox, Joshua Finnie, MJ Rippon, BS Wilson, Nathan Smith, Jacob Duffy, Jack Hunter.
Auckland Aces suffered a narrow defeat by 2 runs at the hands of Northern Knights at Hamilton in their last game. That was, however, almost a week ago and the Aces would have had plenty of time to ponder about their weaknesses and take measures to correct them.
The loss not only propelled Northern Knights to top of the table position but also denied the Aces a possible position in the middle of the table with an advantage of one game. Chasing a total of 155, the Aces failed to stitch regular partnerships and eventually fell short of the target.
The margin of win was reduced only because of Will Sommerville towards the end of their innings as he smashed Knights' bowlers all around the park and scored 37 off just 16 deliveries. Earlier with the ball, they produced a splendid effort to restrict the power-packed batting lineup of Northern Knights to just 155. Mitchell McClenaghan was the pick of their bowlers as he picked three for 23 in his three overs. DJ Grobbelaar's exceptional bowling in the middle overs proved to be an excellent support spell. He, too, picked up three wickets and conceded 29 runs in his four overs.
Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, GD Phillips, Mark Chapman, Craig Cachopa, Robert O'Donnell, Donovan Grobbelaar, Ronnie Hira, W Somerville, MJ Mcclenaghan, Matthew Quinn.
Auckland Aces have played four matches so far and one this which is pretty apparent in all four is that they've failed to score big on all occasions. They, however, have an experienced batting lineup which consists of James Vince, Craig Cachopa, Glenn Phillips, and Mark Chapman which is capable of overhauling any total on their day. Otago Volts, too, struggled to score quickly in their last encounter and their bowlers were expensive as well. Although the Aces are playing away from home in their next match, the conditions are unlikely to make much of the difference. We think that with a more experienced batting line-up and a balanced bowling attack, Auckland Aces are better-placed to emerge victorious in the upcoming fixture.
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