Cricket: Task for Volts is to maintain the momentum

Otago Volts all-rounder Nathan McCullum bats in the nets at the Queenstown Events Centre...
Otago Volts all-rounder Nathan McCullum bats in the nets at the Queenstown Events Centre yesterday. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Otago has gone quite nicely while three of its key players have been in South Africa.

The challenge now is to build on its three-match-winning streak and keep the momentum going. To do that, the Volts will welcome back captain Derek de Boorder and all-rounders Nathan McCullum and Jimmy Neesham.

The trio have returned from the republic and have been named in the team to play Auckland in a twenty/20 match at the Queenstown Events centre today.

Spinner Mark Craig and all-rounders Sam Wells and Iain Robertson make way for the threesome.

Wells captained the side in de Boorder's absence and Michael Bracewell filled in with the gloves.

For Auckland, Michael Bates returns. He has been added to the squad that lost to Wellington by 10 runs on Friday.

The competition is entering the middle stages and Otago is in third place with three wins from four games. The Volts trail joint leaders Wellington and Northern Districts by four points, but those teams have played two extra games.

A quirk of the draw means Otago plays the defending champion in back-to-back games.

Auckland has two wins from two matches and is in fourth spot, Central Districts has one win from four games and Canterbury is winless after four games.

Although Auckland lost its last match, coach Paul Strang is confident his team is not far from hitting its stride.

''A lot of stuff on Friday was just a matter of degrees in our execution,'' he said.

''We need to pick up on some of the finer details but, overall, we've got the players and the mental attitude right, so we're looking forward to getting back on the winning path in Queenstown.''

When Otago last won the competition in 2008-09, it did so by playing fearless cricket. The Volts posted three scores of more than 200 in a row that season and showed some of that form in the 82-run win against Wellington in Dunedin before Christmas and again in the one-run victory over Canterbury in Timaru on Thursday.

Dutch international Ryan ten Doeschate has shown his class. He has had three bats for 172 runs and took a screamer of a catch to help Otago hold on against Canterbury. He is a key man in the line-up.

Opener Hamish Rutherford has got his side off to good starts in the past few games, and experienced top-order batsman Aaron Redmond has returned from injury to bolster the batting.

Overseas player James Fuller has added value since he joined the squad earlier this month. He was the pick of the bowlers in the win against Canterbury, and 18-year-old Jacob Duffy keeps improving with each outing.

Auckland will look to proven performers Lou Vincent and Andre Adams to provide spark. Vincent has had a lean run but is a dangerous player, and Adams is the tournament's leading wicket-taker with nine wickets at an average of 11.11.

English professional Phil Mustard found some form in the loss to Wellington. He plundered an unbeaten 97 but his scratchy start put a lot of pressure on his side.

The teams

Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Neil Broom, Ryan ten Doeschate, Nathan McCullum, Michael Bracewell, Jimmy Neesham, Ian Butler, James Fuller, Derek de Boorder (captain), Jacob Duffy, Nick Beard.

Auckland: Gareth Hopkins (captain), Andre Adams, Michael Bates, Craig Cachopa, Colin de Grandhomme, Donovan Grobbelaar, Anaru Kitchen, Kyle Mills, Phil Mustard, Matt Quinn, Bhupinder Singh, Lou Vincent, Reece Young.

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