Both finalists are without key players, but Central Districts have one potential matchwinner as they chase a second consecutive Ford Trophy 50-over title at Pukekura Park today.
CD are without fast-medium bowler Doug Bracewell while Canterbury have lost batsman Tom Latham, both to the national squad for tomorrow's final ODI against Pakistan in Auckland.
However, Jesse Ryder, back at his province where he began his erratic career, has been in prime touch.
His 444 runs at 55.5 are second only to Otago's Neil Broom in aggregates, and his sizzling 136 off 114 balls rescued CD from a deep hole to beat Canterbury in their preliminary final on January 23 in Christchurch. Along with fast-medium Ben Wheeler, the pair put on 163 for the seventh wicket to push CD to a two-wicket win with three balls to spare.
"The boys have played good cricket and deserve to be here," Ryder said yesterday. "It's such an exciting team. I'm the old boy batting at the top of the order and helping out where I can.
These guys are going to be awesome players."
The former international lefthander reckons the win over Canterbury "puts us in a good head space to play them again. They'll be a bit light on batting, which is a good thing for us, but we've lost Dougie, who has been bowling really well for us."
Canterbury boast the most successful bowler in the competition, Ed Nuttall, whose 18 wickets at 16.22 tops the list, one spot above CD's reliable Seth Rance's 17 at 14.41.
Their captain Andrew Ellis, a clean and lengthy hitter, is averaging 64.5 so shapes as an influential figure on the picturesque, but petite, ground in New Plymouth.
Should CD win, it will also be a decent feather in captain Will Young's cap in his first summer in the job.
"We've had good success here and are looking to carry it on," Young said. "We'll just go out and start from scratch, keep that buzz but start fresh and be on the ball from ball one."
Ford Trophy final
Central Districts v Canterbury
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, 11am today
CD: Will Young (c), Jesse Ryder, George Worker, Ben Smith, Tom Bruce, Dane Cleaver, Indika Serathratne, Seth Rance, Marty Kain, Ajaz Patel, Bevan Small, Blair Tickner, Ben Wheeler
Canterbury: Andrew Ellis (c), Leo Carter, Roneel Hira, Ken McClure, Peter Fulton, Todd Astle, Cameron Fletcher, Cole McConchie, Tim Johnston, Logan van Beek, Kyle Jamieson, Ed Nuttall.