Cricket: Finals experience will help us, coach Hesson says

Northern Districts might be the form team but Otago has more big-game experience, coach Mike Hesson says.

Otago waltzed into the State Shield final yesterday with a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Canterbury at the Village Green in Christchurch and will meet Northern Districts in the final in Hamilton on Saturday.

The Volts set the tone with South African-born strike bowler Neil Wagner taking three early wickets to leave the home side's innings in tatters at three for 14.

Faced with some disciplined bowling, Canterbury was unable to resurrect its innings and was dismissed for a miserable 86.

Buoyed by the ease at which Otago slipped past Canterbury and into the final, Hesson believes the defending champion is well-placed to snare back-to-back titles.

"This is our third final in a row so we're certainly not overawed by the occasion," he said.

"And I think we showed [yesterday] we're up for the battle. We were clinical in everything we did and that has given us a lot of confidence."

While Wagner was the star performer with three for 11 from seven overs, the rest of the attack never let up, bowling a nagging line and length.

"This is my fourth year in charge and that is the best bowling performance I've had in a one-dayer. Neil set the tone but everyone else carried on as well. It was outstanding," Hesson said.

Otago and Northern Districts have met twice this year, with Northern winning both encounters.

"Northern Districts are a good side but so are we. But we are going into the final match-hardened and raring to go. I can't wait."

Otago scraped into the semifinal last year but beat Canterbury by six wickets in the semifinal and then went on to beat Auckland in the final, picking up its first major title in 20 years.

Interestingly, the team which has finished third the past two years has ended up winning the tournament.

Otago was third after the round-robin stage and Hesson hopes the trend continues.



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