Cricket: Playoff picture clearer in Ford Trophy after bowlers dominate

By Niall Anderson

Sam Wells was the star with the ball for the Otago Volts. Photo /
Sam Wells was the star with the ball for the Otago Volts. Photo /

In a cricketing climate where one-day scores of 300 are becoming the norm, bowlers can still enjoy their day in the sun.

The penultimate round of the Ford Trophy was one for the seamers and spinners to enjoy, as Auckland and Otago both rolled their opposition for under 200 before cruising to comfortable victories.

With four teams making the playoffs at the end of the season, the victories may prove crucial, with Auckland booking their spot in the semifinals, while Otago jumped off the bottom to leap into fourth.

The two teams they defeated - Wellington and Northern Districts respectively - are now the two teams on the outside looking in at the playoffs after below-par batting performances.

Northern Districts could only muster 181 after being put into bat by Otago at University Oval, with the Otago seam bowlers proving to be hard to put away throughout.

Sam Wells was the pick of the bunch, taking 3-25 from his 10 overs as he stalled ND's innings during the middle overs. Wells claimed the key wickets of Daniel Flynn, Anton Devcich and BJ Watling to start Northern's slide, before the opening quick pairing of Neil Wagner and Jacob Duffy took over.

Wagner claimed 2-40 while Duffy ended with 3-39, giving Otago's batsmen an easy chase.

Michael Bracewell (60), Neil Broom (69 not out) and Hamish Rutherford (47 not out) made sure the hosts coasted to victory to put their playoff hopes in their own hands - with Otago four points clear of fifth-placed ND, and holding a far superior net run rate.

Otago will host Wellington in the final round, who will need a lot to go their way to qualify after a hefty seven-wicket defeat to Auckland.

Colin De Grandhomme starred with the ball for the visitors; taking 4-37 as Wellington were dismissed for 199 after choosing to bat.

Auckland didn't find any demons in the Basin Reserve wicket, with Michael Guptill-Bunce (66) and Brad Cachopa (85) putting on 142 for the first wicket as Auckland booked their spot in the playoffs.

They will join Canterbury and Central Districts in the finals series, with Canterbury clinching first place going into the playoffs after their game against CD was abandoned.

Only 18 overs were able to be bowled due to rain, with CD remaining in second on the ladder.

The final round of the Ford Trophy is set to be played on Wednesday.

Ford Trophy Table

1. Canterbury 27
2. Central Districts 18
3. Auckland 17
4. Otago 13
5. Northern Districts 9
6. Wellington 8

Points Awarded: Won - 4, Lost - 0, Tied - 2, No Result - 2, Abandoned - 2, Bonus Point (Run Rate 1.25x Opponents') - 1

- NZ Herald

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