The heights of 2017-18 have been scaled once again by the Northern Knights. Once again, the defending champions have led the way with seven wins out of nine this season while booking their place in the final.
The fact that in spite of eight of their regular players playing for the national side, Northen Knights have trumped opponents majestically to rule the roost in the Super Smash 2018-19 season is a testament to their youth system and coaching staff.
Up against an Otago side bereft of any confidence, Northern Knights walk into this match as the firm favourites, with a win providing them direct entry into the finals of the competition.
With the game set to be held at the Bay Oval, it is sure to match the scenic view of the stadium with loads of entertainment and points for fantasy players.
Squads to choose from:
Nick Kelly, B.J Watling, Dean Brownlie, Joe Carter, Corey Anderson, Brett Hampton, Kyle Abbott, Tarun Nethula, Neil Wagner, Daniel Flynn, Zak Gibson and Joe Walker.
Neil Broom, Hamish Rutherford, Anaru Kitchen, Josh Tasman-Jones, Josh Finnie, Mitch Renwick, Ben Cox, Jacob Duffy, Michael Rippon, Nathan Smith, Christi Viljoen and Brad Wilson.
Playing XI Updates:
With the departure of Tim Seifert and Daryl Mitchell, the Knights should field the returning BJ Watling and Carter in their places while Tarun Nethula should slot in for Ish Sodhi. Corey Anderson will have to take up extra responsibility with the ball in the absence of Daryl Mitchell as they seek to shake off their loss to Auckland in the previous round.
Possible XI: Kelly, Watling(WK), Brownlie(C), Anderson, Carter, Flynn, Hampton, Abbott, Wagner, Nethula and Gibson.
Apart from Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford, who have been quite good with the bat, none of the other batsmen have put up sizeable contributions. Anaru Kitchen is a quality player who hasn't been at his best this season though much is expected of him in their final match. Jacob Duffy has led the bowling unit well with eleven wickets to his name and he would be relied upon to provide breakthroughs at the start of the innings.
Possible XI: Broom, Rutherford, Tasman-Jones, Finnie, Kitchen, Cox(WK), Wilson, Viljoen, Rippon, Duffy(C) and Smith
Fantasy Tips and Suggestions:
Wicket-keeper: Both Ben Cox and BJ Watling are quality players who are capable of putting in a good performance regardless of their batting position. BJ Watling might be rusty due to the lack of action in the last month for him, paving the way for Ben Cox's inclusion.
Batsmen: Neil Broom and Corey Anderson are must-haves in the fantasy side while the likes of Nick Kelly and Hamish Rutherford have proven they are more than capable with the bat at the top of the order. Josh Finnie could also slot in for Hamish Rutherford taking into account the threat posed by Kyle Abbott and Neil Wagner.
All-rounders: Anaru Kitchen is a quality player who hasn't come good this season apart from a few inconsequential cameos here and there. He is one player capable of delivering a standout performance though and is a must-have in your side along with either Nathan Smith or Michael Rippon.
Bowlers: Kyle Abbott has been the Knights' go-to bowler since replacing Chris Jordan and is one player to back without any doubt. Either of Nethula or Wagner could be considered along with Otago captain, Jacob Duffy.
Captain: Neil Broom has for long been on the fringes of the national side and a player of his stature cannot be ignored. Along with Anderson and Kitchen, Broom is one of the more reliable options for captain of your side.
Fantasy Suggestion #1: Ben Cox (WK), Corey Anderson, Neil Broom, Nick Kelly, Josh Finnie, Anaru Kitchen, Nathan Smith, Brett Hampton, Jacob Duffy, Neil Wagner and Kyle Abbott. Captain: Neil Broom.
Fantasy Suggestion #2: BJ Watling(WK), Corey Anderson, Neil Broom, Hamish Rutherford, Dean Brownlie, Michael Rippon, Anaru Kitchen, Brett Hampton, Kyle Abbott, Tarun Nethula and Jacob Duffy. Captain: Anaru Kitchen.