- Wellington Firebirds is a well-balanced side as compared to Auckland Aces.
- Opener Devon Conway has been the leading run-getter for Wellington by some distance and has already amassed 494 runs in 10 games at a superb average of 70.57 with 1 hundred and 5 fifties.
- Auckland’s bowling has been their weakness and has let them down often this season
Wellington Firebirds, who topped the Super Smash 2019-20 table, and Auckland Aces – who finished third but won through the preliminary final – meet in the 2019-20 Super Smash Final at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.
The Firebirds were the team of the league phase, but nearly missed out on top spot after losing their two most recent matches. Their league campaign actually ended with a six-wicket defeat to the Aces at Basin Reserve, when they could not defend 165/7.
That result helped the Aces qualify for the preliminary final, and they beat Otago Volts by three wickets, with one ball to spare, after being set 175 to win. Martin Guptill led the way, scoring 43 from 31 balls at the top of the order, and the big-hitting opener will be key. Auckland will be high on confidence after their thrilling win in the eliminator.
Wellington Firebirds topped the table but they have not won since Devon Conway’s unbeaten century led the way in a ten-wicket win against Otago Volts. Defeats to Canterbury Kings and Auckland Aces followed, nearly costing them top spot.
Wellington’s bowling has been good but is overwhelmingly dependent on two players - Hamish Bennett (14 wickets) and Ollie Newton (16 wickets). The two seamers have done a great job throughout the season and would need to fire in the final as well. James Neesham would be missed but the likes of Rachin Ravindra and Logan van Beek would have to take up responsibly as well if they have to stop the strong Auckland batting.
Predicted Playing 11:
Devon Conway, Michael Pollard, Rachin Ravindra, Tom Blundell (wk), Michael Bracewell (c), Jimmy Neesham, Jamie Gibson, Peter Younghusband, Logan van Beek, Ollie Newton, Hamish Bennett
Auckland Aces beat Wellington Firebirds in their final league match – their fourth win in five games – to finish third in the Super Smash table and qualify for the preliminary final. Results elsewhere went the Aces way as they bounced back from defeat to Northern Knights thanks to a match-winning partnership from Craig Cachopa (66) and Mark Chapman (58*). They guided Auckland to 166/4 in 18 overs and a comfortable six-wicket win.
Left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira has been the leading wicket-taker with 13 wickets and has got decent support from Mitchell McClenaghan (7 wickets) and Mark Chapman (7 wickets). William Somerville’s outstanding spell of 3-25 in the last game was one of the highlights for Auckland and he may well prove to be the game-changer again.
Predicted Playing 11:
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Craig Cachopa (c), Robert O’Donnell, Ronnie Hira, Ben Horne (wk), Kyle Jamieson, William Somerville, Mitchell McClenaghan
Teams batting first have found more success at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. In a big game like the final, the team which wins the toss is almost certain to bat first. A score of 180-190 batting first could well be a match-winning one.
Average first innings score: 173 [In the last 3 games at the venue this season]
Record of batting 1st teams: 2 out of 3 [last 3 matches at this venue]
PITCH AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
The pitch at the Basin Reserve has favored batsmen this season. The ball comes on nicely to the bat as the pitch is hard and generates good bounce. Seam bowlers might get some help in the first few overs.
Light showers are expected on the day of the game in Wellington so we may have a truncated game. However, the weather should be cloudy and breezy for most of the day.
This is a difficult game to predict as both the teams have had a good run in the tournament. Auckland will be high on confidence after that performance in the Elimination Final.
However, Wellington will certainly enjoy the home advantage. They have also been the superior team this season and playing at home, they will have the edge. Auckland’s weakness in bowling might come back to hurt them on the big day but a special one from Martin Guptill or a combined team effort yet again can take them to victory.
However, on paper, Wellington is the more balanced and solid side.