Derek de Boorder
Seven straight wins - and Otago will host the HRV Cup
That was the rather pleasant situation in which the Volts
found themselves last night after a perfect pair of results.
Otago beat Wellington by 12 runs at the Basin Reserve,
following an exceptional bowling display, and Canterbury
upset Northern Districts in Hamilton.
That has left Otago clear at the top of the table on 28
points. It has two games in hand and cannot be caught by
Wellington or Northern (both 20 points, with one game to
Regardless of the results against Central (tomorrow, in New
Plymouth) and Canterbury (Tuesday, University Oval), Otago
will host the final in Dunedin on Sunday, January 20.
It is just reward for the Volts' dominance of the twenty/20
game this summer. Yesterday, when they scored 170 for six and
strangled the Firebirds with tight bowling, was another
indication this is a team that knows how to win.
With the so-called experts claiming a score of 200 was needed
in excellent conditions, Otago failed to pass 180 for just
the second time in its past six games.
Derek de Boorder (67 off 44 balls) played the anchor role in
the innings, and the captain then directed a bowling attack
that throttled the Firebirds for large chunks of their
Wellington's chase got off to a flyer, Jesse Ryder and Tamim
Iqbal getting to 18 without loss after two overs.
Ryder hit the first ball of the third over for four but was
bowled by James Fuller the next ball.
Former Black Caps opener Michael Papps scratched out one off
eight balls before being caught on the boundary off Jimmy
Neesham's first delivery.
Iqbal slowed up as the Otago bowlers got on top, and fell for
41 (38 balls) in Nick Beard's first over, and Cameron Borgas
laboured to 35 off 39.
There were some flutters when Luke Ronchi (20 off nine) got
going, and full-blown palpitations when Grant Elliott (36 off
18) provided late fireworks, but the game was probably
Neesham (two for 26 off four) and Ian Butler (none for 23 off
four) were the misers-in-chief.
Otago, having won the toss and elected to bat, got off to a
typically rollicking start through Hamish Rutherford.
The free-swinging left-hander cracked 32 off 20 balls, with
three fours and a six, before he fell to a sizzling catch
from Jesse Ryder.
Neil Broom (13) and Nathan McCullum (14) - the latter run out
by a direct hit from a Scott Kuggeleijn throw - failed to get
going, meaning star import Ryan ten Doeschate would again be
asked to spark the innings.
The Dutch international worked himself in but, having eased
to nine off 12 balls, he was denied an opportunity to push on
when he hit a ball hard but straight to Ili Tugaga. It was a
rare failure for ten Doeschate, who had passed 50 in four of
his six innings for the Volts.
His departure came in the middle of a flat period for Otago,
which struggled to find the boundary - there was just one
four between the 14th and 17th overs.
De Boorder, however, kept noodling the ball around. He passed
his previous high twenty/20 score of 38 and raised a debut
half century in the format.
Michael Bracewell (21 off 14) and Neesham (eight not out off
three) added some impetus as the Volts scored 39 off the last
Northern Districts came up short chasing Canterbury's total
of 184 in Hamilton last night.
Tom Latham top-scored for the visiting side with 52 from 29
balls, including three sixes. Canterbury then seemed to be
cruising to a win before a late flurry from ND got it to 176