All appears in perfect working order for the Auckland Aces as they zero in on their HRV Cup Twenty20 title defence.
They chalked up their seventh win in nine outings by comprehensively beating the Otago Volts by eight wickets with 14 balls to spare at Dunedin’s University Oval today, a result which confirmed a home final against the Canterbury Wizards at Colin Maiden Park on January 22.
These two sides will complete their preparations when they face one another at the final venue in the last round of the regular reason on Tuesday.
The Aces warmed up for the final week of the campaign in threatening form as the Volts were soundly beaten after mustering just 150 for eight after choosing to bat first.
That was never going to seriously challenging the in-form Aces batting card, and the visitors eased to their target on the back of yet another impressive innings from Martin Guptill, whose rich vein of form showed no signs of abating as he struck 68 not out off 47 balls, with seven fours and two sixes.
Pakistani allrounder Azhar Mahmood also enjoyed the freedom afforded him to clout an unbeaten 51 off 39 to build on the earlier good work of Guptill’s opening partner Lou Vincent, who cracked 31 off 17 to ensure a fast start.
Earlier, three Volts batsmen made promising starts without kicking on as Craig Cumming struck 44 off 36 balls, with five boundaries, while Brendon McCullum made 35 off 32 with three sixes until Colin Munro had the dangerous opener snapped up by Michael Bates, and Hamish Rutherford contributed 24 off 17 in an opening stand of 44 which occupied just 4.2 overs.
Once McCullum departed off the first ball of the 13th over the Volts lost their way as the Aces bowlers assumed control, led by left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira.
Hira took one for 19 off his four overs while Mahmood was also good value in taking two for 22 off three.