Volts must win — and cross fingers

The worst place to be on an aeroplane is the middle seat.

The same is true of the one-day tournament.

With one round remaining, there are four teams chasing the final two playoff spots.

It is a logjam and someone is going to miss out.

Auckland can relax. It has secured top billing regardless of the outcome of its next match, while Central Districts has only pride left to play for.

But Wellington (21), Canterbury (20), Northern Districts (19) and Otago (19) are all still elbowing each other over the territory in the middle.

The Volts are in fifth place and have the worst draw. They are hosting Auckland at the University of Otago Oval tomorrow.

The Aces have nothing to lose or gain so might not be terribly motivated. But they have been the form team in the campaign.

The Volts need to win to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. A bonus point win would not hurt either.

Otago could beat Auckland and still miss out if Wellington and Canterbury both win.

Canterbury would need a bonus point win to guarantee itself a spot, though. It can get to a maximum of 25 points, while Otago can only get to 24.

The best result for the Volts would be for Northern Districts to beat Wellington but without a bonus point, and for Central Districts to tip up Canterbury. That would leave the door open for Otago to move into second place.

The Volts have named an unchanged line-up from the side which beat Canterbury by 23 runs on Wednesday.

Captain Jacob Duffy starred with five for 38, while seamer Matt Bacon and spinner Michael Rippon were instrumental with the ball as well.

Dean Foxcroft anchored the innings with 72 and Neil Broom (51) and Anaru Kitchen (48) made telling contributions.

Left-hander Nick Kelly missed out but he has scored more than 300 runs during the campaign and shapes as a key cog again.

Pace bowler Michael Rae, all-rounder Nathan Smith and experienced opening batsman Hamish Rutherford are unavailable due to New Zealand A duty.

Volts coach Rob Walter has not got too bogged down in running through the various scenarios.

"The most important part of the equation is winning, so we need to take care of that first. Whatever happens after that is up to someone else, really."

Walter is not buying the theory the Aces might not be that hungry for the win, given they are already through to the final.

"They won’t want to lose momentum and will want to head into the final playing the best cricket possible. Maybe the situation will free them up.

"They are at the top of the log and have been playing good cricket and I expect another really good game against them."

Auckland tipped Otago out of the twenty20 tournament with a tense last-over win in the elimination final at the University of Otago Oval last month.

The pitch could be a touch on the slow side, which would suit Otago. The Volts have a lot of slow bowling options.


Otago v Auckland

Dunedin, tomorrow, 11am Otago: Nick Kelly, Mitchell Renwick, Neil Broom, Dean Foxcroft, Josh Finnie, Anaru Kitchen, Michael Rippon, Dale Phillips, Jacob Duffy (captain), Angus McKenzie, Matt Bacon, Camden
Auckland (possible): Jeet Raval, Colin Munro, Matt McEwan, Craig Cachopa, Finn Allen, Robbie O'Donnell, Ben Horne, Sean Solia, Danru Ferns, Ben Lister, Louis Delport, William O'Donnell.

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