About the Match
The bottom two teams Wellington and Otago will play their last game of the league when they take on each other at Wellington on 3rd January; although Wellington has some hope to make it through with 16 points in its kitty, it is clearly game over for Otago which is positioned at the bottom with only 12 points. When they met just few days back, Wellington had conquered the Volts by 6 wickets and will now try to repeat the winning performance in order to keep their campaign alive. Otago lost its last four games and will be determined to bow out on a winning note; Wellington on the other hand would leave no stone unturned to crash into the top three with a big victory here.
Chasing 176 against the Knights, the Wellington top-order batsmen came out with all their firepower to intimidate the opposition; opener Michael Papps has been in good form and he posted an unbeaten 80 off 59 that consisted of 3 sixes and 7 boundaries and gave the team a solid foundation. Tom Blundell also performed superbly, scoring 69 off 43 while Hamish Marshall played a supportive role with a quick fire 16. They kept the pressure up on the Knights, and went on to register a big win by 9 wickets with one over to spare.
Earlier, the bowlers had been ineffective in containing the opponents, with Grant Elliott being the lone wicket taker; however, they could try to put up a much more disciplined effort here against Otago. Speedster Hamish Bennett had been successful with 2 scalps against Otago recently, and he can try to outwit them again along with other fast-bowlers like Brent Arnel, Matt Taylor and Elliott. Spinners Luke Woodcock and Jeetan Patel bowled economically in that match and bring good variety to the attack.
The bowlers had restricted Otago to 159, which the batsmen led by Hamish Marshall’s brilliant century off just 58 deliveries, achieved with more than 3 overs to spare. Although Papps, Murdoch and Blundell had failed to impress much with the bat, they are in good form to help the hosts go for a big total if batting first or in chasing one with ease.
Against Wellington, the batting line-up had mustered only 159 runs batting first with Rutherford being the top-scorer with 47 off 31; Michael Bracewell, Josh Finnie, Boorder and Beaton did well to keep the scoreboard ticking and add depth to the squad.
Spinner Anaru Kitchen was stupendous with figures of 1-15 while speedsters Neil Wagner and Sam Wells took 3 wickets between them. However, others like Finnie, Smith and Viljoen proved to be expensive and they lost the match by 6 wickets. Recently against Auckland, Wagner and Kitchen put up a disciplined effort in defending 175 but they couldn’t take any wickets and break partnerships; although Phillips, Duffy and Sam Wells took a wicket each, they failed to win in the end.
Earlier, the middle-order batsmen Rutherford, Finnie, Brad Wilson and Boorder did well to keep the runs flowing; Rutherford led from the front with a quick fire 42 off 27 before being run-out while Finnie supported well with 45 from 33 deliveries. They have good resources with bat and ball, and could come out to seek redemption here against Wellington.
Although Otago has some match-winners who have brought success in earlier matches, Wellington has a power-packed batting line-up and a well-rounded bowling squad that could leverage the home advantage to emerge victorious on Tuesday.