Back Auckland Aces for the win!
Hosts Auckland Aces will be keen to kick-start their campaign on a good note when they take on Wellington Firebirds in the second game of Super Smash competition in Auckland on Monday.
Last season, Auckland played exceedingly well in the competition and managed to win five games out of ten played. They suffered defeat at the hands of Central Stags in the preliminary final last year. Aces will be keen to go the distance in this year’s competition.
On the other hand, Wellington lost their opening game against Northern Knights by 45 runs. The side will be looking to make a comeback in this game.
Auckland Aces is the most successful side in the history of Super Smash T20 competition with four titles to their name. They have lifted the crown in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2015. The side certainly has a strong squad for this year’s competition.
In the batting department, the home side will be relying on Colin Munro, who is an accomplished T20 cricketer. Munro made only two appearances for Auckland last season due to international duties for New Zealand. He will be available for the early part of the competition. The side will also be boosted by the return of Martin Guptill, who also did not play for Aces last year.
The experience of Munro and Guptill will certainly help Aces at the top of the innings. Mark Chapman was leading run scorer for Auckland last season with 307 runs in 9 matches. The left-handed batsman will play a big role for the side in this year’s competition.
Wicket-keeper batsman Glenn Phillips will be keen to produce better returns with the bat. Phillips had a poor run with the bat last season with 147 runs in 7 matches. Robert O’Donnell also played exceedingly well for Auckland last year in the absence of big players like Munro and Guptill.
In the bowling department, the dependence is clearly on pace duo of Mitchell McClenaghan and Ben Lister to make early inroads with the new-ball. Aces have good spinners like Tarun Nethula and Ronnie Hira, who bowled exceedingly for the side last year.
Craig Cachopa (captain), Glenn Phillips (wk), Colin Munro, Mark Chapman, Martin Guptill, Robert O’Donnell, Ben Horne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ronnie Hara, Tarun Nethula, Ben Lister.
On the other hand, Wellington Firebirds will need to make amends after suffering a defeat at the hands of Northern Knights. The side will need to raise its game in order to upstage Auckland in their backyard.
In the batting department, the team will be depending on the likes of Devon Conway and Michael Bracewell to do the bulk of the scoring. Conway played against Northern Knights and scored 45 runs off 23 balls with the help of eight boundaries. Wellington will be hoping that he can continue his good form in this game as well.
Adam Hose, James Neesham and Tom Blundell all got starts and failed to go on to get a big score for the side.
The Achilles heel for Wellington has been their bowling attack after conceding over 200 runs against Northern Knights in Hamilton.
In the bowling department, the team is heavily reliant on medium pacer Hamish Bennett and off-spinner Jeetan Patel. The duo really bowled well in the opening game of the competition against Northern Knights.
Hamish Bennett (captain), Adam Hose, Devon Conway, Tom Blundell (wk), Michael Pollard, Michael Bracewell, James Neesham, Jeetan Patel, Ollie Newton, Luke Woodcock, Malcolm Nofal.
The rain might play a pivotal role in this game as well. The pitch at Eden Park has been always been a batting paradise with its short boundaries. The bowlers will need to toil hard to get something out of this wicket.
The venue generally favors the batsmen due to its short boundaries. It is certainly going to be a high-scoring game with Wellington and Auckland having quality players in their ranks. The curator will certainly prepare a belter for this game.
Both teams will be willing to looking to bat first and put runs on the board. Auckland Aces will have an advantage as they are playing on their home turf.