Northern Knights look to climb up the table with a strong performance against Wellington!
Wellington Firebirds to win this game!
The 20th match of the Super Smash tournament will see second-placed Wellington taking on fifth-placed Northern Knights at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. This match comes just two days after the two teams faced other at the Bat Oval in Mount Maunganui.
In that fixture, it was Wellington who won the toss and chose to bat first. Even though the visitors got off to a pretty rapid start during the powerplay overs with a 41-run opening stand, experienced leg-spinner Ish Sodhi combined with Brett Randell to bring Northern Districts back into the game with wickets at regular intervals. With Wellington stuttering right through their inning, it was only some lusty blows from Fraser Colson and Jamie Gibson that helped the team reach a competitive 161-8 in the end.
In return, Northern Knights opening combo of Anton Devcich and Tim Seifert struggled with the latter scratching around to make his labored 32-ball 30. However after they got out, Daryl Mitchell steadied the ship with a counter-attacking half-century while skipper Dean Brownlie also played his part with a quickfire 24-run knock. Even though the two batsmen failed to stay unbeaten, Northern Districts registered a comfortable five-wicket victory with an open to spare. This win was crucial for Northern Districts and also the other middle table teams considering that Wellington could have created a pretty big gap with the rest of the teams if they had ended on the better side.
For Wellington, it is pretty evident as to who has been the stand-out player until now. Wicket-keeper batsman Devon Conway has not only been the best player in his side but the whole tournament in fact. With 264 runs in six matches at a strike rate of 141, Conway has combined consistency with a positive batting approach.
All-rounder James Neesham and Michael Pollard are the other two batsmen that Wellington will depend on given that both have scored more than 150 runs this season.
On the bowling front, Ollie Newton has been superb by averaging two scalps per game. Although he has been a bit expensive by conceding more than eight runs per over, Newton is a crucial wicket-taker for his side. Apart from him, Neesham figures heavily once again in the bowling charts while the likes of Hamish Bennett and Rachin Ravindra form a good support-cast.
Yet, it has to be said that the void left by Jeetan Patel is still affecting Wellington as Logan Van Been hasn’t been at his best. This has caused problems for the side with respect to the 5th bowling option that has seen Wellington try to use the likes of Malcolm Nofal and Michael Bracewell without a great deal of success.
Devon Conway (WK), Michael Pollard, Rachin Ravindra, Michael Bracewell (C), James Neesham, Fraser Colson, Jamie Gibson, Malcolm Nofal, Logan van Beek, Ollie Newton, Hamish Bennett
Rachin Ravindra, Malcolm Nofal, Devon Conway, Logan van Beek, Ollie Newton, Hamish Bennett, Fraser Colson, Michael Bracewell, Michael Pollard, James Neesham, Jamie Gibson
When compared to Wellington, Northern Knights have relatively struggled for consistent runs from their batsmen. Only Tim Seifert has delivered regularly with two fifties from four innings while Daryl Mitchell found some sort of form with a fifty against Wellington on New Year's Day.
Two other batters in the form of Joe Carter and Brett Hampton have one fifty each to their names but apart from that, there has not been any other big knock.
On the other hand, the team's bowling seems to be in much better shape with the duo of Brett Randell and Anurag Verma having picked eight wickets each so far. Ish Sodhi and Anton Devcich also ensure that Knights' spin bowling quality is pretty good too. Scott Kuggeleijn and Daryl Mitchell have been giving away too many runs but they have also produced a combined 12 wickets for the team.
Anton Devcich, Tim Seifert (WK), Dean Brownlie (C), Daryl Mitchell, Brett Hampton, Joe Carter, Daniel Flynn, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ish Sodhi, Anurag Verma, Brett Randell
Brett Randell, Ish Sodhi, Anurag Verma, Tim Seifert, Scott Kuggeleijn, Anton Devcich, Brett Hampton, Joe Carter, Dean Brownlie, Daryl Mitchell, Daniel Flynn
The Basin Reserve Stadium in Wellington is a pretty high scoring venue with 183 and 182 being the totals made by the teams who batted first in the two matches that have held at this ground. However, the spinners can also decent impact due to the relatively big boundary dimensions. Meanwhile, the game is set be a full 40-overs affair in spite of the possibility for an afternoon shower on Friday.
The Basin Reserve Stadium in Wellington is a popular one for Test matches and ODI matches. Although it is the Westpac Stadium that hosts T20I cricket in Wellington, domestic T20’s are still played out at the Basin Reserve. The last international match at this venue was the second Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh last year with the hosts winning by a huge margin.
The teams who have batted first have won both the matches so far with even Wellington pulling off a thrilling one-run win against Otago. This might continue on Friday with the teams looking to post a big total by batting first to put all the pressure on the chasing team. The spinners might get more purchase in the second inning and this will play into the hands of the team which bats first.
We are going for an easy victory for the hosts Wellington. Although Northern Knights won the previous match between the two sides, Wellington boasts a pretty powerful batting line-up that should help them out the match out of reach for Knights. In the end, if Knights are going to do the double over Wellington, their bowling attack led by Scott Kuggeleijn and Ish Sodhi would have to impose themselves on this game.
Wellington Firebirds to win this game!