Volts could seal playoffs spot

The Volts have had an impressive season thus far, claiming their fourth win on the trot against...
The Volts have had an impressive season thus far, claiming their fourth win on the trot against Auckland. Photo: Getty Images
Otago looks poised to return to the playoffs and a win against Northern Districts at Lincoln today would confirm its spot.

The Volts have struck some surprising form in the one-day competition this season.

Their tense three-wicket win against Auckland on Wednesday was their fourth consecutive win and cemented their position towards the top of the standings.

The top three teams progress to the playoffs and
Otago (22 points) is in second place with three rounds remaining.

Wellington leads with 23 points and Northern is in third with 14 points.

With a maximum of 15 competition points still available to each team, Auckland (12 points), Central Districts (11 points) and Canterbury (nine points) are still in contention.

But Wellington and Otago have a decent buffer and appear destined to battle for top spot.

Whichever leads the standings at the end of the round-robin phase will host the final against the winner of the playoff between second and third.

For the Volts, that could be a difference between a bouncy wicket at the Basin Reserve where they have struggled recently, or the comfortable surroundings of the University of Otago Oval.

The Volts have not hosted the one-day final since 2006-07, so it would be a treat for their supporters who
have endured a tough few seasons.

Northern Districts started the tournament slowly and were hammered by nine wickets in round two by Otago. But they have won three games on the trot, including scoring more than 300 to beat Canterbury on Wednesday.

Volts coach Rob Walter was wary of the threat the Northern will present. But he is also delighted with the character his side has displayed.

He expects players such as Jacob Duffy, Neil Broom and Anaru Kitchen to have an impact. But it is rewarding for him when the younger players come through and we saw plenty of evidence of that in the gutsy win against Auckland.

Nathan Smith showed his value with the bat.

The all-rounder was promoted to No5 and scored a career-high 43 which proved critical in the chase.

Michael Rippon claimed three wickets and his 38 not out helped complete the win.

Fast bowler Warren Barnes made an impact in his return with two wickets. They were both cracking deliveries.

There are some areas Otago will need to tidy up.

The Volts conceded too many extras and gave away more runs than they would have liked at the death.

The run out of Broom was unnecessary, and Kitchen hit in the air and was caught at a time when the team would have been better served by the batsman playing the ball along the ground.

But the team is winning and the playoffs beckon.

"I don't want us to worry about what is required but to continue on this streak we are on," Walter said.

"Getting to the playoffs would be awesome and we would take that from where we have come.

"If we can beat ND, then we can start thinking about trying to reel Wellington in and playing [the final] at home."

In a late change for the Volts, Ben Lockrose was called in last night to replace Hamish Rutherford, who is on New Zealand A duty after an injury to George Worker.



Looks like the final can’t be played at the Basin - Beers at the Basin is scheduled for the same day.