It’s time for the top two teams of the Super Smash to face off again. The match is on 18 December 2021 at 07:10 pm. Venue for this showdown is McLean Park, Napier, New Zealand. Central Stags and Otago Volts are at the number 1 and 2 positions in the points table respectively and both would be looking to further cement their place. The Stags took down Otago in the first game they squared off this season and playing home this time, they will again start as favorites. Otago Volts, meanwhile, are coming off a fine 3-wicket win against Northern Knights and would be confident of a better show this time.
After winning the first two matches of the season, Central Stags faced their first loss against Canterbury in their last game. While chasing a target of 173, they were bowled out for just 125. That 47-run loss hurt their net run rate which has now slipped to -0.392.
Dane Cleaver, after his sensational 114* in the first game against Otago, has had two failures. Greg Hay too has been inconsistent. Skipper Tom Bruce can play the anchor sort of innings as he showed recently against Wellington with his unbeaten knock of 69 off 48 balls. But the one to watch out for will be Josh Clarkson who has looked in incredible touch down the order and is striking it at 223.25 this season so far.
On the bowling front, the Stags have done a decent job with Doug Bracewell already leading the bowling charts with 5 wickets in 3 matches. Seth Rance and Jayden Lennox are also dependable performers but Blair Tickner, who has been expensive this season, can prove to be their weak link.
After losing that first game against Central Stags, Otago Volts have come back well. They had Northern Knights pegged back in their second match, but it got rained off. In their next game against the same opponents, they chased down a target of 147 with 3 wickets and 2 balls to spare.
They have quite a stable batting unit with men in form. Skipper Hamish Rutherford, Neil Broom, and Anaru Kitchen have looked in good touch. Llew Johnson, whose 25 off 13 balls in the last match helped win the game for Otago, is another batter to watch out for.
Anaru Kitchen has also been reliable with his left-arm spin and will again be opening the bowling. Jacob Duffy and Matthew Bacon have looked good too. Left-arm chinaman Michael Rippon, who was smashed for 50 from 3 overs in Otago’s last match against Central Stags, has also found his touch now.
This is a great batting wicket, which remains consistent throughout the 40 overs. Batters will have fun and seamers can go for runs if they don’t get any movement off the surface. Spinners, however, might come in handy if they balance their variations well.
The weather at Napier on the day of the game is expected to be sunny and pleasant. The highest total at McLean Park, Napier, is 230-5 by Northern Districts. The average score batting first here is 174 and totals above 190 have been achieved 4 times on this venue. This should be a high-scoring match and the team batting first would look to target a total in excess of 185 runs.
Teams batting first have won 10 of 15 games played here. Expect the team winning the toss to hence bat first. Central Stags have now won 4 of the last 5 games they have played against Otago. Playing at home, they will begin as favorites. They have a balanced outfit which is looking in a good shape, despite the loss in the last match. Otago, however, would be confident after their win in the last match. If their batting unit fires, they might just surprise the Stags.