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The Canterbury opener powered the home team to a six-wicket win at the Hagley Oval yesterday.
The Volts needed to win to slip past Wellington at the top of the competition standings and earn the right to host the final.
The visiting team looked on track to post a huge score but bungled the last five overs and had to settle for 167 for five.
Bowes was bowled five runs shy of what would have been a maiden century in the format.
He played around a straight delivery but had been hitting everything out of the middle before that.
Leo Carter hit the winning run in the penultimate over.
Otago will now host Friday’s elimination final against Auckland at the University of Otago Oval. The winner will play Wellington in final in the capital on Sunday.
Canterbury struck a critical blow early in the match. In-form opener Hamish Rutherford got an inside edge on to his body and it deflected on to the stumps.
It was a little unlucky but the bowler Ed Nuttall cramped him for space and earned his good fortune.
Otago shrugged off the loss and continued going hard at the bowling, as it has all season.
Neil Broom flogged a free ball for six and Nick Kelly was quickly into his work.
The pair made the most of the power play, steering Otago through to 65 for one after six overs.
Todd Astle helped slow the run rate briefly and veteran all-rounder Andrew Ellis should have captured the wicket of Broom on 38 but Carter shelved the catch at square leg.
Both batsmen brought their half-centuries with sixes. Kelly got down on one knee and scooped it, whereas Broom played a more orthodox shot.
But the innings started to unravel when Kelly flicked the ball towards the boundary. Bowes dived forward and intercepted it.
It looked very much like the ground assisted the catch but the replay was inconclusive, so Kelly had to go for 62 from 43.
Broom was trapped lbw by Astle moments later for 57 from 46.
The double breakthrough meant Otago had two new players at the crease for the death overs.
The terrific start got squandered and a score of 180-190 went awol.
The Volts could manage only 34 from the last five overs.
Bowes powered Canterbury’s chase off to a good start.
He was finding the boundary easily enough but his partner, Jack Boyle, was wading through cement.
It was an act of mercy when was dismissed for seven. Matt Bacon got the breakthrough.
It was the last over of the power play and typically that over can be an expensive one for the fielding side. But Bacon did well and he should have had the wicket of Henry Nicholls.
Michael Rae grassed the catch at third man. The sun probably did not help but he ought have caught it.
The partnership was starting to hurt Otago and Bowes tipped in the chilli powder with a reverse sweep for six to raise his 50.
The 27-year-old right-hander was taking the game away from Otago rapidly.
He clouted back-to-back sixes and a couple of fours to ruin Bacon’s figures in the 13th over.
Nicholls picked out Broom in the deep on 39 shortly after. The wicket the Volts needed was Bowes but he carried his side close to victory.