Volts ‘pull one out of nowhere’

Otago Volts batsman Mitch Renwick is bowled by Malcolm Nofal under the eyes of Wellington...
Otago Volts batsman Mitch Renwick is bowled by Malcolm Nofal under the eyes of Wellington wicketkeeper Lauchie Johns at the University of Otago Oval on Saturday. Photos: Peter McIntosh
"That is the loudest we’ve sung our team song all year," Otago co-captain Jacob Duffy said shortly after his side had clawed its way to a tense seven-run win against competition-leader Wellington.

Perhaps it was the adrenaline which helped the Volts belt out the victory tune with such gusto. Maybe it was relief.

Either way the victory was built on a solid foundation of tenacity and a little luck. The win puts the side top equal of the Ford Trophy, though it is behind Wellington on net run rate.

"When you pull one out of nowhere it definitely feels a bit more special," Duffy said.

The Volts rebounded from 112 for six to reach 218 on a used pitch at the University of Otago Oval.

Josh Finnie and Michael Rippon had a lot to do with that. Both were dropped and made the most of their reprieves.

The pair added a valuable 68 for the seventh wicket before Rippon holed out for 42.

Finnie helped blast 61 off the final five overs. His knock of 53 from 47 deliveries should have been cut off on six, though. Jakob Bhula put down a chance which would have been easier to catch than drop.

Finnie shook it off and hammered five sixes. Although he did not know at the time, he had just put his side ahead by a nose.

Former Otago A player Ollie Newton had his figures damaged during the onslaught. But he also picked up some cheap wickets at the death to snap up his first five wicket bag in the format.

Hamish Bennett was arguably the pick of the visiting bowlers, though. He belongs in the United Arab Emirates with the Black Caps, based on his recent form.

He was a handful early on and his two for 29 represented another impressive outing by the Wellington captain.

Otago’s modest tally soon looked a lot more decent than initially thought.

Duffy knocked over the top three on his way to a stunning five-wicket haul of his own. It was his second in the format and he celebrated the early dismissals of Devon Conway, Andrew Fletcher and Malcolm Nofal in the knowledge he had got his side back in the contest.

But former Otago pair Michael Bracewell and Jimmy Neesham led the fight back for the visitors with a quality partnership of 92.

When Bracewell was run out for 45,  Neesham continued on and posted his maiden one-day century.

It was a quality innings from the former international and a reminder to the selectors he is still one of the cleanest strikers in the game.

He threatened to take the game away from Otago during the power play. But he was deceived by a slower ball by Matt Bacon shortly after notching the milestone.

Hamish Rutherford took a stunning catch to remove the dangerous player. That left the match teetering.

Wellington needed just nine more runs to win but Nathan Smith closed down the chase when he trapped Iain McPeake lbw.

"We never felt out of this game," Duffy said.

"We got smoked in Wellington but we still had good energy and that is a great sign going forward.

"When you are up against the wall, if you have that energy and excitement then anything can happen."

The win has cemented the Volts’ second place in the standings, with 18 points.

Wellington has the same points tally but leads through a superior net run rate.

In the other games, Central Districts thumped Auckland by 170 runs at Eden Park Outer Oval, while Northern Districts beat Canterbury by three wickets at Seddon Park.

Just three points separate  the bottom four sides with four rounds remaining.

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