You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The sides last met at Eden Park Outer Oval on Saturday and Auckland recorded a comfortable eight-wicket win. Central Districts posted 174 for nine. Auckland spin duo Will Somerville (two for 30) and Roneel Hira (three for 22) helped limit the damage with regular wickets. The home team then cruised to victory, thanks to import Daniel Bell-Drummond and Black Caps discard Mark Chapman. Chapman's undefeated 75 from 41 ball was a reminder just how dangerous he can be.
The Munro factor
Colin Munro might struggle at international level when he has to face the world's best bowlers for more than an over or two. But in twenty20 he is one of the most destructive batsmen on the planet. He produced a man-of-the-match effort in his most recent outing. He has the second-highest T20 international career strike rate of all time. It is very unlikely he will pull out the forward defensive shot this evening.
One step forward, two back
Central Districts has Black Caps all-rounder Doug Bracewell back for the match but will be missing power hitter Josh Clarkson and potent seamer Blair Tickner. Tickner is out with an ankle sprain. Despite his absence, the Stags still have a ridiculously strong bowling unit which includes pace bowlers Adam Milne and Ben Wheeler, seamer Seth Rance and spinner Ajaz Patel. Maybe one of them will be able to get Munro cheaply.
For the second consecutive season the Stags will play Auckland at Eden Park Outer Oval in the elimination final. They dealt the Aces a 36-run defeat last summer, so they will be hoping history repeats.
The national selectors have fallen out of love with Tom Bruce but the Central Districts captain is the third-leading scorer in the tournament. He has smashed 308 runs at a strike rate of 161.25. Opener Will Young has been productive as well. His 237 runs places him in eighth place. Auckland does not have a batsman in the top 10 but it has Munro, while captain Craig Cachopa has been consistent with 207 runs at a strike rate north of 150.
The poster boy for the paleo diet craze Mitchell McClenaghan has 15 poles for Auckland. The former international left-armer's economy rate of 9.00 is not too flash, though. Wheeler has been the most successful Stags bowler with nine at an average of 32.11. Rance has been economical, which is so much sexier than taking wickets. He is going for just over seven an over, while Munro has bowled just 42 balls for Auckland but picked up six for 46. Could the dibbly-dobbler have an impact with the ball again?
Elimination final Super Smash
Auckland v Central Districts
Eden Park Outer Oval, today, 4.10pm, Live on Sky Sport
Auckland: Colin Munro, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Craig Cachopa (captain), Graeme Beghin, Robbie O’Donnell, Roneel Hira, Donovan
Grobbelaar, Mitchell McClenaghan, Will Somerville, Matt Quinn, Ben Lister.
Central Districts: George Worker, Will Young, Dean Foxcroft, Tom Bruce (captain), Dane Cleaver, Doug Bracewell, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Ben Wheeler, Adam Milne, Seth Rance, Ajaz Patel, Bevan Small.