In front of a sellout summer holiday Molyneux Park crowd in Alexandra, the Otago Volts celebrated an empathic victory over the Auckland Aces as the second phase of the HRV Twenty20 got underway today.
Opening with spinner Mark Craig paid quick dividends for the home team, when Anaru Kitchen was caught in the first over. It proved the first act of an impressive all-round performance by the Otago attack, Craig's quick opening foil James McMillan was outstanding, with his set of four costing a mere eight runs.
With partners coming and going, pressure had fallen quickly on the shoulders of form Aces batsman Jeet Raval, who responded by helping blast 17 runs off first-change Jacob Duffy's first over with sweetly-struck consecutive sixes.
It was a glimpse of what might have been for the Aucklanders, Raval en route to a crunching 55. However, the Volts made a key strike in the 13th over just when he was set - the opener caught behind off who else but the fizzing McMillan. The southerners promptly capitalised by removing the ever-dangerous big hitter Colin de Grandhomme cheaply, followed by tough customer and Aces captain Gareth Hopkins, who was clearly not impressed to have been given out caught behind.
The Aces limping home to 119-9 in their 20 overs, Otago Volts captain Derek de Boorder's decision to insert the visitors on a seemingly friendly pitch was left looking prescient, while his batsmen brimmed with confidence embarking on one of the smaller run chases of the season so far.
BLACKCAP returnee Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom raced to 23 off the opening three overs, setting their side up to cruise home by eight wickets. Broom was caught behind off former teammate James Fuller for 51, but Rutherford missed out on a matching half century when he was run out with just a handful of runs required on 49.
The Volts now head north to the Hawkins Basin Reserve to take on the Hell Wellington Firebirds on Sunday, while the Aces need to stay in touch with the HRV Twenty20 leaders by beating the Devon Hotel Central Stags in New Plymouth the following afternoon.