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We are almost about to hit the business end of the tournament in the ongoing Burger Kings Super Smash and the table is still wide open. Barring Northern Knights, who are 10 points ahead of next best team in the tournament, no team is certain of a semi-final spot yet. Wellington Firebirds and Otago Volts will be facing each other on 27th January at Dunedin in a bid to get into the top-four. Otago are currently placed at fourth spot with two wins in seven games but will be displaced by Wellington Firebirds if they fail to come ahead in their upcoming encounter. With not much time to go, both the sides would want to stay in the top four until the end of the round-robin stage and that is what both sides will be hoping to achieve as the end result of the upcoming game.
Otago Volts had a cracking start to the tournament wherein they defeated Canterbury Kings in the first match, but it has all gone downhill for them ever since. Since then, they've registered only one win in a total of six matches. It was almost a month ago that they won a game in the tournament,
Their last match was a week ago where Auckland Aces just edged them by four runs. Otago won the toss and decided to bowl first, but soon found things going south with DJ Bell-Drummond and Glenn Phillips tonking their bowlers around. Duffy dismissed Phillips in the fifth over and Viljoen followed it up with a ripper to get rid of DJ Bell-Drummond in the seventh. However, the lack of control from them in the middle overs was clear as the likes of Raine, Hicks, and Smith leaked runs which allowed Aces to pile up 184 runs on the board.
Unlike Aces, the Volts got off to a poor start and lost two wickets in the second over with just eight runs on the board. With wickets falling at regular intervals, they always looked one-step behind in the chase. Although there were a few little cameos from their late order, it proved to be a little too late as they finished four runs short of Aces' total.
Hamish Rutherford, NT Broom, Tasman Jones, Ben Raine, Ben Cox, Joshua Finnie, Anaru Kitchen, BS Wilson, Nathan Smith, C Viljoen, Jacob Duffy.
Just as Otago Volts are, the Firebirds, too, are struggling for their survival in the tournament and are in dire need of a win. They're currently at the fifth spot in the points table and a loss will only make matters worse for them.
Wellington are coming into this game on the back of two losses and their last win came against Canterbury Kings - the only team below them in the points table. Just like Volts, the Firebirds faced Aces in their last match and were beaten comprehensively in that fixture.
Batting first on a decent batting wicket, the Firebirds got off to a reasonable start with all of their top-three batsmen getting starts. However, they lost way during the middle part of the innings as no one could bat responsibly and stick around. Adam Hose with his well-compiled 38 happened to be the best batsmen for them.
Although they started off brilliantly with the ball by picking Martin Guptill on the first delivery of the second innings, they couldn't put pressure on star-studded batting lineup of Auckland Aces. All Aces needed was - to bat responsibly which they did to perfection and thereby denied Firebirds to sneak into the game. The Aces eventually won the match with six wickets in hand and more than two overs to spare.
Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, TA Blundell, James Neesham, Troy Johnson, Luke Woodcock, Rachin Ravindra, Ollie Newton, Jeetan Patel, Ben Sears, Hamish Bennett.
For Otago Volts, the tournament has come a full circle. It's been a month since they last tasted success and that was against Wellington Firebirds. They're facing the same team and will be hoping for a similar result. Firebirds haven't looked convincing at all in almost all the matches they've played. Although, the Volts have had a similar sort of fate, their last win over Firebirds should be a confidence booster for them. As is the case in the points table, things could get close between the two sides, but we think that the Volts will eventually pull it off to add two important points to their kitty.