Wellington gunning to come back to winning ways at home against Auckland!
Wellington Firebirds to win this game!
The league phase of the ongoing edition of the Super Smash tournament is about to come to an end with teams battling to be in the Top 3 spots on the points table. This upcoming fixture between Wellington and Auckland will have repercussions for both teams with the former looking to qualify for the final directly. On the other hand, Auckland will look to take the small opportunity of sneaking into the playoffs by beating Wellington.
While Wellington did lose their last match Canterbury, they are still in Pole position to finish on top with 24 points from 9 matches. In that match against Canterbury, the bowlers couldn’t be faulted because the trio of Hamish Bennett, Rachin Ravindra and Phil Younghusband did extremely well to restrict Canterbury to an average 148-8. In return, star batsman Devon Conway was yet again in prime form with a half-century but with his team-mates not stepping up to the plate, Wellington scrambled hard only to find themselves three runs short of the target after the end of 20 overs.
Auckland themselves are coming on the back of a loss against Northern Knights on Friday. After being asked to bat first, openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro got the side to a fantastic start but the rest of the Batsmen didn’t capitalize on their starts and this meant that Auckland had to settle for a very decent 170-7. Just like Auckland, Northern Knights' openers also stitched a 50+ opening partnership and this meant that the hosts were on the back foot for most of the inning. In the end, Kyle Jamieson brought Auckland back into the match but Scott Kuggeleijn held his nerve to take Northern Knights home with an over and three wickets to spare.
With each and every passing game, one just can’t wait for Devon Conway to become eligible to represent the New Zealand team. After starting the Plunket Shield with a bang, the wicket-keeper batsman has continued his rich vein of form in the Super Smash too with 425 runs from 9 matches.
He has also found some good support from Michael Pollard and James Neesham. With the ball, pacers Ollie Newton and Hamish Bennett have led the way so far with 15 and 13 wickets respectively. While Newton has been slightly on the expensive side, Bennett has particularly impressed everyone with his pace and consistency.
Young spinner Rachin Ravindra and James Neesham are the other two bowlers who have been among the wickets so far.
Devon Conway, Michael Pollard, Rachin Ravindra, Michael Bracewell (C), Fraser Colson, Jamie Gibson, Lauchie Johns (WK), Phil Younghusband, Logan Van Beek, Ollie Newton, Hamish Bennett.
Rachin Ravindra, Devon Conway, Logan van Beek, Fraser Colson, Ollie Newton, Hamish Bennett, Jamie Gibson, Peter Younghusband, Michael Bracewell, Michael Pollard, TA Blundell
Unlike Wellington, Auckland has relatively struggled with the bat as only star batsman Martin Guptill has shown some sort of consistency by averaging 48.33 in 9 matches. With names like Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman and Corey Anderson, Auckland would have to post totals over 160-170 consistently.
The side hasn’t fared much better with the ball too with most of them leaking runs. Even the highest wicket-taker Ronnie Hira who has 13 scalps and Mitchell McClenaghan have conceded more than eight runs per over. If Auckland are going to beat Wellington, the likes of Kyle Jamieson and Ben Lister have to put in economical displays.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Corey Anderson, Craig Cachopa (C), Ben Horne (WK), Ronnie Hira, Ben Lister, Mitchell McClenaghan, Kyle Jamieson.
Ben Horne, Ronnie Hira, Colin Munro, Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Robert O'Donnell, Mitchell McClenaghan, Martin Guptill, Craig Cachopa, William Somerville, Kyle Jamieson
The tracks at the Basin Reserve have been really good for batting especially in the first half of the games. The venue has decent sized boundaries and this should ensure that there is balance between bat and ball. With respect to the weather, the day is expected to be cloudy and windy without no threat of rain.
A pretty well-known venue, the Basin Reserve ground hosts Wellington's home matches with the Westpac Stadium reserved for international matches. Thus far, the average score batting first has been 175 and this shows how runs has been the theme at this ground.
As mentioned earlier, teams batting first have generally fared better. So it would be wise to bat first and post a big total to take all the pressure off the bowlers. The spinners will also come into the game in the latter half of the match.
Auckland has too many loopholes in both the batting and bowling departments and this means that the well-rounded Wellington will always go into this match as favorites.
The reliable Devon Conway is easily the player to watch out for while Auckland will be hoping that their famed batting line-up comes to the party for once.
Wellington Firebirds to win this game!