Otago Outclass Central to Confirm Semi-Final Place
Reigning State Shield one-day cricket champions the State Otago Volts showed their multiple strengths when beating the State Central Stags by 63 runs in New Plymouth today.
Otago ensured themselves a semifinal spot by vaulting into second place behind Northern Districts ahead of their last round robin game against Wellington in Invercargill.
They were in command almost from the outset at Pukekura Park after New Zealand opener Brendon McCullum hit 82 before English import Dimitri Mascarenhas clouted 53 not out off just 27 deliveries to propel Otago to a vibrant 311 for eight in their 50 overs.
Outstanding fielding and disciplined bowling then dismissed Central Districts for 248 as the home side suffered their fourth successive defeat.
Central Districts can still qualify for the semifinal next week, but they need to beat Auckland on Sunday and hope that third-placed Canterbury trip up against guaranteed finalists Northern Districts.
They were never in a position to challenge Otago's tally today, with Jamie How suffering a first-ball duck and international Ross Taylor contributing just eight before being smartly caught by Neil Brown behind point.
Skipper Mathew Sinclair continued his rich vein of form to compile 68 off 85 balls but the climbing asking rate was always going to be beyond the lower order despite Ewen Thompson cracked a lively 40 and Bevan Griggs making 28.
Left-arm swing bowler Neil Wagner was close to his best to return figures of four for 39, moving back into second place in the State Sheild MVP and fourth overall.
Former international Ian Butler was more than handy in taking three for 50 and Warren McSkimming aided his team's cause with two for 39.
Earlier, Otago's healthy total was built around innings of contrast from McCullum and Mascarenhas.
McCullum showed restrained control to score 82 at the top of the order while Hampshire allrounder Mascarenhas ensured a furious close by belting a quickfire half-century to push Otago past 300.
Batting at No 7, Mascarenhas helped himself to five fours and three sixes to ensure Otago benefited from the platform provided by McCullum.
The feisty right-hander left his more audacious strokes in the pavilion, stroking nine fours and one six in conventional mode as he collected his runs off 94 balls.
Captain Craig Cumming offered valuable support in making 48 off 53 balls, while Broom chipped in with 39 off 37.
Second placed MVP player Thompson was the pick of the home side's bowlers, picking up three for 45 off 10 overs, although Brendon Diamanti was not so fortunate, giving up 72 runs off the same allocation.