Otago still third after two losses

Otago has managed to tread water despite losing back-to-back one-day games against Northern Districts in Dunedin this week.

The Volts (12 points) are in third place in the Ford Trophy standings midway through the round-robin phase.

They were third before producing a couple of disappointing performances at the University of Otago Oval, so they have been lucky with the results of other games.

Northern Districts (22 points) has moved into pole position, while Canterbury (18 points) leads the chasing pack.

Wellington (10 points) remains firmly in contention for the playoffs, and Auckland (nine points) and Central Districts (seven points) registered wins in the last round to stay in touch.

The top three sides progress through to the playoffs.

Otago made the final last year after edging Canterbury by six runs in the elimination playoff.

Colin Munro whacked 104 from 60 deliveries to help Auckland seal a two-wicket win in the final.

Otago has not won the tournament since 2007-08 when Brendon McCullum pummelled 170 in the final.

But given its form in white-ball cricket last season, hopes were high this side might be able to end that drought.

That faith has dimmed a shade following the past two performances.

The team will move into twenty20 mode now. The Ford Trophy goes into hiatus until after the Super Smash competition has concluded.

Otago’s next one-day assignment is not until the back-to-back games against Canterbury in Queenstown on February 19 and February 21.

The Volts will begin their preparations for the T20 tournament this weekend before taking four days off during the Christmas break.

The hard work will resume on Boxing Day in Alexandra before the Volts’ opening T20 matches against Auckland on December 28 and Canterbury the following day. Both games are at Molyneux Park.

Coach Rob Walter said the shift from one-day cricket to the T20 format was not a big shift.

"The skill sets are the same. It is just the intent which changes a little bit and there is a slight change in our strategy," Walter said.

Otago has essentially had a couple of T20 matches this season already. Its one-day games against Central Districts at Pukekura Park were shortened to 20 overs and 24 overs apiece due to poor weather.

The Volts won both those encounters, so that bodes will for the Super Smash.

Otago has added some strength to its bowling line-up with the acquisition of former international Mitch McClenaghan, while opening batsman Hamish Rutherford is one of the more destructive players in the tournament.

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