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The 19-year-old has been named in the Volts squad for its campaign opener against Auckland ahead of Mitchell Renwick.
Renwick has been preferred in the one-day and four-day formats because of his superior batting.
But with the Otago side featuring four spinners, the Volts have opted for Chu in the role, coach Rob Walter said.
" ... The balance of the team and the format that we are playing allowed us to just investigate a different keeping option," Walter said.
"It has been widely reported that Max is the No1 gloveman in the province so this gives us an opportunity to play him as a specialist."
The other key factor in Chu’s elevation is Otago plans to play four spinners.
Dean Foxcroft and Michael Rippon are frontline spinners, while Anaru Kitchen is a very useful part-timer and Josh Finnie can be handy as well.
Potentially, the Volts could bowl up to 16 overs of spin, so having the leading keeper behind the stumps makes sense.
"Mitch has shown with the bat he is one of our top batters. And in the 50-overs format he gives us the dual role of batting and keeping.
"But with the change in format you are able to not necessarily carry that extra batsman."
The rest of the line-up has a settled look. Seamer Matt Bacon misses out but Michael Rae has recovered from a hip complaint and joins Jacob Duffy and Nathan Smith in a three-pronged pace attack.
The trio will need to be on their game. Auckland is likely to name a team featuring Colin Munro, Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips in what is a destructive batting line-up.
"I don’t think it matters which names are on the bowling list. It will be a challenge for whoever is running in.
"Those are international-grade cricketers and they have produced top performances against top attacks.
"They have a really strong line-up and we know it is going to be a cracking game."
Otago spent two days in Queenstown earlier this week completing its preparation.
The Volts played three intrasquad games. Hamish Rutherford impressed with a hundred in the opening match and Neil Broom posted 70-odd in the second.
Smith, Rippon, Kitchen and Nick Kelly all made contributions at different stages.
Wider squad member Llew Johnson played some nice cameos and seamer Travis Muller picked up two three-wicket bags.
vs Auckland at Eden Park
Hamish Rutherford, Neil Broom, Nick Kelly, Dean Foxcroft, Anaru Kitchen, Josh Finnie, Michael Rippon, Nathan Smith, Max Chu, Jacob Duffy, Michael Rae, Dale Phillips.