Top of the table Wizards cruise past Volts

A batting implosion sabotaged Otago Volt's prospects of setting Canterbury Wizards an onerous run chase in Timaru today as the competition leaders coasted to a five-wicket win and sealed home advantage for the one-day cricket championship semifinals on Waitangi Day.

Otago committed virtual suicide during the "death" overs at Aorangi Park, losing 6-15 in just 23 balls as they folded for 220 in the penultimate over.

Canterbury mirrored Otago's batting frailties at the start of their run chase but a soothing 77 from the in-form Peter Fulton and an efficient -- and unbroken -- 83 run stand for the fifth wicket by Shanan Stewart and Andy Ellis saw the inadequate target eclipsed midway through the 45th over at 224 for five.

Otago were solidly placed at 205 for four in the 45th over before Fulton triggered their alarming decline by running out Darren Broom a ball after he brought up his 50.

Sharp fielding by Andy Ellis also accounted for Derek de Boorder when he was run out to the first ball he faced then crucially for Otago captain, and mainstay, Craig Cumming continued the procession after top scoring with a classy 66.

Cumming was well caught by Dean Brownlie to provide Australian compatriot Michael Claydon with the third scalp of his career-best haul of 4-39.

Nick Beard also succumbed to Claydon's pace as the Otago ended prematurely; spinner Rob Nicol had created the early inroads - including the crucial wicket of Neil Broom for 12 - as he ended with figures of 3-20 from 10 overs, two which were maidens.

An allround performance was beyond Nicol who trailed fellow opener Michael Papps (0) back to the pavilion for five but Otago's joy dimished once Fulton knuckled down to construct his third half century of the campaign.

He posted his 50 from 49 balls and maintained a brisk scoring rate before he was caught by Cumming after stroking 11 boundaries and a six from 76 deliveries.

Reece Young's swift exit for six raised Otago's hopes momentarily when Canterbury were 141 for five but the measured Stewart - who made 65 from 98 balls and Ellis the aggressor - 55 from 45 including nine boundaries - guaranteed there would be no repeat of Otago's batting botch-up.

Canterbury will host second placed Auckland on February 6 with the loser granted a second life against the winner of the second semifinal between Otago and Northern Districts.

NZPA

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