Our prediction is Auckland Aces to win!
Two sides still in contention to reach the Super Smash preliminary final meet as the competition moves steadily towards its conclusion with Auckland Aces hosting Otago Volts at Eden Park. When these two sides met earlier in the competition – last week, in fact – the Aces were flying along at 1117-1 after 11 overs before the rain arrived and brought the match to a premature halt.
These two sides have met 26 times since 2006 and the Aces have a 13-9 head-to-head record with four no results. At Eden Park, both sides have claimed four wins apiece with the Volts winning the most recent meeting last January by two wickets with one ball remaining.
The Aces have struggled to find much momentum during this season’s tournament, perhaps not helped by their first game against Wellington Firebirds succumbing to the weather. A win over Central Stags was followed by defeats to Canterbury Kings and Northern Knights before the washout with Otago.
In their last match, they returned to form with an impressive win over the Firebirds. Colin Munro, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ronnie Hira shared nine wickets and they chased down a target of 122 with almost three overs to spare. Despite playing just three matches, Martin Guptill has scored almost double the amount of runs of anybody else and no other batsman has registered a half-century.
McClenaghan is their leading wicket-taker, with nine, but Munro leads the way when it comes to economy rates – if their key players perform well, they could be a match for anybody.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips (wk), Mark Chapman, Craig Cachopa (c), Robert O’Donnell, Donovan Grobbelaar, Ronnie Hira, William Somerville, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matthew Quinn
Mitchell McClenaghan, Mark Chapman, Graeme Beghin, Ronnie Hira, Matthew Quinn, Glenn Phillips, Robert O'Donnell, William Somerville, Donovan Grobbelaar, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Craig Cachopa
It has been a different story for the Volts, who started the Super Smash with two straight wins which might have marked them down as early contenders for glory. They saw off the Kings by five wickets and then held on to defeat the Firebirds by just one run. However, following defeat against the Knights, they have seen abandonments against the Stags and the Aces and in the only completed game they played they lost by 54 runs to the Stags.
That combination of results has given their net run-rate a pounding and it means they need to work hard to keep their chances alive. Only two players – Anaru Kitchen and Hamish Rutherford have scored half-centuries for the Volts this season but they have three players – Christi Viljoen, Jacob Duffy and Matthew Bacon – whose economy rates are under eight.
Hamish Rutherford, Ben Cox (wk), Anaru Kitchen, Michael Rippon, Ben Raine, Jacob Duffy (c), Shawn Hicks, Jack Hunter, Josh Finnie, Brad Wilson, Nathan Smith.
Nathan Smith, Hamish Rutherford, Ben Cox, Jacob Duffy, Shawn Hicks, Joshua Finnie, BS Wilson, Anaru Kitchen, C Viljoen, Ben Raine, Tasman Jones
There will be some rain around this weekend and unfortunately a lot of that is due to arrive on Sunday. However, it should clear in time for the match but it might slow the pitch down and give the bowlers a little assistance if moisture remains in the air.
Eden Park has hosted just two Super Smash matches this season and only one of them was played to a conclusion. On that occasion, the Aces made just 110 before the Kings eased to a five-wicket win having won the toss and chosen to field first. Over a longer period, the ground generally offers up a decent contest with scores in excess of 150 a regular occurrence.
On two occasions the Volts have won the toss and chosen to bat first, winning once and losing the other time. When they chose to field first, they also lost. The Aces have only won one toss all season, and they successfully chased after calling correctly. Both sides might prefer the other to weigh up what is a good score and invite them to bat first.
Both of these teams have suffered for having matches abandoned due to rain and it means they are under pressure to get results to stay in contention with others around them. They have struggled for consistency and the Aces in particular are overly reliant on Guptill, Munro and McClenaghan. However, they have a squad with more experience and arguably more quality than the Volts. This is effectively their game in hand over the teams above and below them and we think they will kick on from beating the Firebirds and take a victory in front of their own supporters.
Our prediction is Auckland Aces to win!
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