Powerplay key to success

Rob Walter
Rob Walter
You can probably distil twenty20 down to the six overs at the start of each innings.

Get the powerplays right and your prospects of winning are so much better.

It is certainly an area Otago has been concentrating on in preparation for its next Super Smash assignment against Central Districts at the University of Otago Oval tomorrow.

The Volts have a record of two wins and a loss from three games.

Both wins have been set up by a brilliant effort with the bat during the powerplay.

Only two fielders are allowed outside the 30m circle in the opening six overs of each innings.

It is designed to encourage players to hit in the air and Otago has embraced the challenge.

In the 45-run win against Auckland the Volts were 74 for two at the end of the powerplay.

They went on to post 219 for seven, which was a ground record at Molyneux Park.

But the following day at the same venue Otago found itself 44 for two in reply to Canterbury’s healthy tally of 185 for four.

The Kings were 66 for none at the end of their powerplay, so essentially won the game there.

The Volts’ last match against Northern Districts was another example of how important the period can be.

The Knights thumped 65 for none off the opening six but stalled and were eventually restricted to 153 for seven.

Otago opener Hamish Rutherford helped take 26 off one over during the powerplay to get his side well ahead of the asking rate.

That proved crucial because the Volts batted terribly thereafter but were able to roll down hill on one wheel thanks to the momentum Rutherford had generated.

Volts coach Rob Walter knows only too well how important the powerplay can be.

"If you do win the powerplay properly then you generally go on to win the game, so that is one thing we are focusing on," Walter said.

"Our bowling, to be fair, has been poor in the powerplay and we’ve struggled a little bit.

"But the hitting in the powerplay has been outstanding, so that is a strength of ours at the moment. Hamish and Neil [Broom] are just carrying on from last season, really.

"When you’ve got guys playing well it is very difficult to defend that powerplay, to be honest. We’ve seen that now, not only in our games, but in all the games.

"It seems like the game is moving in that direction and it makes sense with only two fielders out.

"The bowlers are really under pressure. They’ve got to deliver some proper skills, given that the batting has obviously stepped up.

"It is a phase of the game that if we can become confident then that would put us in the right stead."

Otago’s strength is in its batting depth, so it can afford a few departures in the opening six overs as long as those departures are not both Broom and Rutherford.

They are too crucial to the line-up to be both lost early.

The next two batsmen in, Llew Johnson and Nick Kelly, give Otago the option of keeping a left hand-right hand combination going, while Mitchell Renwick floats in the order.

His role is to rebuild the innings if a few too many wickets have fallen, whereas Anaru Kitchen has a licence to play his natural game.

"We don’t mind sacrificing a couple of wickets in the first six to try and push the envelope in terms of how many we can get.

"After the opening six overs, the rest of the innings is dictated by where we are at at the end of the powerplay in terms of wickets lost."

All-rounder Nathan Smith is still struggling with an injury and drops out of the squad but otherwise the team is unchanged.

Otago v Central Districts

University of Otago Oval
Tomorrow, 3.10pm
Otago: Hamish Rutherford, Neil 
Broom, Nick Kelly, Llew Johnson, 
Anaru Kitchen, Mitch Renwick, Dale 
Phillips, Michael Rippon, Jacob Duffy, 
Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Bacon, 
Michael Rae.

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