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|Logan van Beek||3.0||0||29||1||9.67|
We are into the fag-end of the league stage in the Super Smash and Wellinton Firebirds and Auckland Aces are set to play their final league game on Sunday. While Wellington Firebirds are already through to the next round, nothing less than a win would do for the Aces. Aces are coming off the close defeat at the hands of Northern Knights and a loss here would mean curtains for the Aces. Firebirds are expected to rest a couple of their key players to keep them fresh for the playoffs, we expect no respite for them and they, too, will be striving hard for a win to finish the league stage on a high. Without a doubt, the importance of this match is more for the Aces and we expect them to give it their all. The match is to be played at Eden Park, Wellington.
Placed at the top of the table, Wellington Firebirds have been the best side in the tournament so far. Had it not been for their close loss against Canterbury Kings, they would have ascertained a top of the table finish. It is still possible, however, and they'll be striving for just that in the upcoming encounter. Currently, they have 24 points to their name and a win here will take them to 28 points.
For the Firebirds, Devon Conway and Michael Pollard have been brilliant at the top. Not only has the pair been fantastic at scoring runs quickly, its the consistency with which they have scored across the tournament. Conway has scoed 786 runs in the past one year and that is more than anyone else in the New Zealand's domestic ciruit. Against the Kings as well, he was the lone fighter and scored a valiant fifty as the Firebirds lost the match by a narrow margin of three runs.
With the ball for them, Hamish Bennett has been in spectacular form and produced a scintiallating spell against the Kings to keep them to a managebale total. Bennett returned with the impressive figures of 27 for 3 in his four overs. He was ably assisted by Peter Younghusband, who returned with the figures of two for 16.
Devon Conway, Michael Pollard, Rachin Ravindra, TA Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Fraser Colson, Jamie Gibson, Peter Younghusband, Logan van Beek, Ollie Newton, Hamish Bennett.
Considering the availability of some of the New Zealand's best T20I players at their disposal, Auckland Aces would be a tad disappointed with their show in the tournament. They are currently placed at the fourth spot and are in desperate need of a win to ascertain a playoff spot.
A close loss to Northern Knights in their previous match provided a massive setback to their campaign. While the Guptill and Munro pair finally managed to fire together for the first time in the tournament, there was no support from their other batsmen. Also, none of Guptill and Munro managed to build on the start they got off to as the Aces ended up with a total of 170 runs on the board.
In reply, the bowlers bowled well to pick up wickets at the regular intervals, but gave away too many easy deliveries for the Knights to score runs. Ronnie Hira was the pick of their bowlers as he picked three important wickets for them. Kyle Jamieson picked up three wickets as well, but he gave away 41 runs in his four overs.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, GD Phillips, Craig Cachopa, Mark Chapman, Robert O'Donnell, Ben Horne, Ronnie Hira, Kyle Jamieson, MJ Mcclenaghan, W Somerville.
While Auckland Aces have a terrific, star-studded lineup, on paper, the Firebirds have been the best team in the tournament so far. Their batting as well as their bowling has both fired and keeping them quiet would be a tough task for the Aces. Being in a do-or-die situation might well bring out the best in the Aces and we expect them to fight hard in this match. Considering stakes, it is going to be a fierce battle between bat and ball, and going by the way things have gone in the tournament so far, Wellington Firebird are better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter.
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