Volts’ fine chase keeps season alive

Chases do not get much better than that.

The Otago Volts hauled in a mammoth target of 341 to keep their Ford Trophy season alive yesterday.

They beat the Wellington Firebirds by six wickets at the Basin Reserve, leaving them in the hunt for a top three spot with one game remaining.

That game will be against the same opponent at the same venue tomorrow.

A win will give them a playoff spot.

Opening batsman Hamish Rutherford set up the chase, showing his class with 102 runs off 91 balls.

Equally important was Anaru Kitchen's finishing job, the No4 batsman unbeaten on 72 off just 46 balls.

Nick Kelly and Neil Broom chipped in with 56 and 55 respectively.

Yet it was their ability to preserve wickets while scoring quickly that was key.

Rutherford and Kelly put on 125 in 20 overs for the opening partnership, before Michael Bracewell bowled Kelly.

Broom joined Rutherford and the duo added 74 before Rutherford was caught driving down the ground off the bowling of Peter Younghusband.

It set the Volts up well, but there was plenty for Kitchen to do when he arrived at the crease with 142 required off 106 balls.

But he showed his class to put the Volts in a comfortable position heading into the final overs.

Twice he hit 15 off an over and while Broom and Michael Rippon provided good support, it was Kitchen who guided them to victory in the final over.

Earlier such a result looked unlikely.

Otago opening bowler Mitchell McClenaghan claimed a key early breakthrough of Tom Blundell for two.

However, Finn Allen hit a rapid 46 runs off 21 balls to get the host team on the front foot.

McClenaghan removed him, but the middle-order batsmen continued to pile on the runs.

Jakob Bhula and Michael Bracewell put on 117 for the third wicket, before Bhula was caught by Nathan Smith off Kitchen's bowling.

Kitchen removed Bracewell as well, six overs later, for 82, but at 215 for four with 15 overs remaining, the Firebirds were well set for a big score.

Troy Johnson added a useful 56, before Fraser Colson put on 46 runs off 31 balls to help guide Wellington to its total of 340 for eight.

McClenaghan was the most threatening of the Otago bowlers, nabbing five wickets.

However, he was also the most expensive, going for 73 runs — one more than fellow opener Jacob Duffy.

In other games, Central Districts beat Northern Districts by six wickets, and Canterbury thrashed Auckland by 216 runs.

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