Otago has big task in Auckland knowing playoff hopes slim

Odds are Otago’s playoff prospects will be snuffed out tomorrow regardless of whether the team wins its final round-robin game.

The Volts will play Auckland at Eden Park Outer Oval and retain only a slim chance of slipping into the playoffs.

Coach Rob Walter has made two changes to the side which lost to Northern Districts by 66 runs in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Captain Rob Nicol returns from injury and Josh Finnie has been called in. Former international spinner Mark Craig drops out of the squad and Anaru Kitchen is on Black Caps duty.

Three of the four playoffs spots have been confirmed with one round remaining.Central Districts (27 points) has locked in pole position and will be joined by Auckland (18 points) and Northern Districts (18 points), while Canterbury (10 points), Wellington (8 points) and Otago (8 points) are battling for the remaining berth.

Canterbury is hosting Wellington which leaves Otago  precariously poised.

A Canterbury win would slam the door shut for the Volts, while an unlikely tie would leave it wide open.

But realistically the best Otago can really hope for is to secure a bonus-point win against Auckland and pray Wellington beats Canterbury without picking up a bonus. In that scenario Otago would limp into the playoffs but there are too many ifs in that plan for the Volts to feel any form of comfort. Had Otago won just one of its last five one-day games, it would have been in a position to dictate its own destiny. But the team has played some terrible limited-overs cricket this season.

It has two wins from seven games in the one-day competition and managed just two wins from nine completed games in the twenty20 competition,  finishing last.

Arguably, one-day cricket is Otago’s best format and the team started well with two wins. But the Volts just have not been able to string some useful individual efforts together.

As a group, the senior players have not delivered the sort of performances needed to get their side more wins.

The Auckland team was unavailable but newly promoted Black Cap Mark Chapman will be a big loss. He is the leading scorer in the competition with 433 runs at an average of 86.60.


One-day tournament
Eden Park Outer Oval, tomorrow, 11am

Otago: Rob Nicol (captain), Hamish Rutherford, Shawn Hicks, Neil Broom, Derek de Boorder, James Neesham, Josh Finnie, Michael Rippon, Neil Wagner, Jack Hunter, Michael Rae, Matt Bacon.

Auckland (possible): Jeet Raval, Graeme Beghin, Glenn Phillips, Sean Solia, Craig Cachopa, Robbie O’Donnell, Donovan Grobbelaar, Michael Barry, Tarun Nethula, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lockie Ferguson, Jamie Brown.

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