About the Match
Wellington continues to be winless and at the bottom of the table; they will take on Auckland, who have won all their games till now and have 16 points in their bag, on 22nd December at Wellington. The hosts lost their last match against Central Districts by 9 runs after a terrific fightback and will be determined to leverage the home advantage to open their points tally; table-toppers Auckland on the other hand is in superior form and continues to dominate opponents on the field. It needs to be seen if Wellington can register a much-needed win and make a comeback here on Thursday.
Chasing 181, Hamish Marshall and Michael Papps did well to build a good foundation; while Marshall scored 52 off 37, Papps posted 27 off 21. Michael Pollard and Luke Woodcock tried to revive the innings after the dismissals of Luke Ronchi and Murdoch but they fell short by 9 runs. Earlier, spinners Woodcock and Jeetan Patel took a wicket each while all-rounder batsman Grant Elliott provided two breakthroughs with his medium pace but the others proved to be expensive.
Against Canterbury too the bowlers couldn’t put up a disciplined show and gave away too many runs despite Brent Arnel and Elliott taking 2 wickets apiece. The batsmen faltered again during chase for 200 and although Marshall, Murdoch and Elliott did well to score 59, 38 and 39 runs respectively, they lost the match by 9 runs after coming so close to the target.
They haven’t won a game yet and this is a crucial match if they want to keep their hopes alive; they have sturdy batsmen like Marshall, Elliott, Stephen Murdoch and Ronchi, who can try to build steady partnerships. The bowlers can put up a better show and try to outwit Auckland here.
Spinner Tarun Nethula was stupendous with a figure of 4-18 against Canterbury recently, helping the team restrict the opponents to a lowly 150; Grobbelaar and Mills contributed well with 3 wickets each and the batsmen chased down the target comfortably with almost 2 overs to spare thanks to a mighty 72 off 35 by Colin de Grandhomme.
Batting first against Knights, Rob Nicol started the innings with a solid 55 off 47 while others like Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Jeet Raval and Grandhomme kept the scoreboard ticking to help post a competitive 186. Speedsters McClenaghan and Mills took 3 wickets between them while spinner Nethula claimed 2-20 to stifle the opposition at 148 and win the match by 38 runs.
They are a well-rounded team with in-form batsmen and bowlers, who bring out their firepower to win matches consistently. They can prove to be a formidable force to reckon with on Thursday.
Although Wellington has experienced players and the home advantage here, we feel that Auckland with its solid batting strength and a good combination of spin and pace is better placed to emerge victorious.