A 93-run thrashing of cellar-dwellers the Devon Hotel Central Stags has seen the Otago Volts continue their march to the HRV Cup final. Top of the points table, significantly their net run-rate was also turbo-boosted by the comprehensive win, which was completed with three overs to spare. Direct entry into the final is determined by the most points or best net run-rate in the event of tied points.
Winning the toss was about the only thing that went right for the Stags at University Oval, letting themselves down badly in the field by spilling five catches - only one of them a difficult chance - in the first nine overs of the game. Hamish Rutherford was the main benefactor, having been dropped at point by Carl Cachopa first ball of the innings and receiving a further two lives before Adam Milne finally showed how it was done at the close of Marty Kain's second over. But by then the damage had been done, Rutherford racing to 34 off 22 as part of a solid opening stand of 53.
The Stags had been forced into last-minute changes by a pre-match injury to Will Young, who joined Kruger van Wyk in the hospital tent (van Wyk nursing a broken ring finger after being hit in the gloves by Milne at training), but they'll be disappointed by a messy display that saw them crash with a thud out of finals contention - one that contrasted sharply with the Volts' clinical efficiency.
Young Volts striker Jacob Duffy became the leading wicket-taker of the competition when his pace saw Mathew Sinclair edge the ball onto his leg stump in the second over of the day, while fellow young paceman James Fuller was on a hat-trick when he lured Ben Small into a top edge that was snaffled by Neil Broom at point, then removed Kieran Noema-Barnett thanks to a magnificent diving catch by Aaron Redmond.
Noema-Barnett's dismissal took the Stags to 84 for eight in the 13th over, no Stags batsman having scored more than 20 before they were bowled out for 101. Spinner Nick Beard turned in another shining performance and wrapped up the innings by claiming the last two wickets in consecutive balls to finish with two for 10 off his three overs, while fellow slow bowler Nathan McCullum was rewarded for squeezing the Stags through the middle with two for 21 off his four.
Earlier McCullum (50 off 27) had also punished the Stags with the bat, combining with a clean-hitting Ryan ten Doeschate to pile on a partnership of 95 off just 52 balls. Ten Doeschate was in brutal touch, smashing Kyle Jarvis for twin sixes in the 18th before putting the ball out of the ground and into the adjacent creek in the final over, bowled by Bevan Small.
Another six onto the roof of the stand followed before a four completed proceedings, Ten Doeschate's unbeaten 59 flying off 32 balls for his fourth half-century in six games.