Ryan ten Doeschate's bruising 64 from 32 broke the back of a mediocre Kandurata Maroons total, and all but secured Otago Volts' place in the Champions League proper, while very nearly damning their opponents to the opposite fate. The match had been set up again by the discipline of the Otago's fast men, who kept Kandurata down to 154 for 9, despite the best efforts of Upul Tharanga, who hit 76 from 56.
Ten Doeschate had not played the first match of the qualifiers, having not been released in time from Essex to come to India. The match was finely poised at 45 for 2, when he arrived at the crease, but within three overs, he had injected Volt's innings with the adrenaline that would not abate until the finish.
Kandurata's spinners had prospered in the first ten overs, but legspinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi could extract little turn from the surface, and it was off his first three balls that the match pivoted. Ten Doeschate charged the first, striking it long and straight, before hanging back to wallop his second six, over mid-on this time. The third six was swept flatter and squarer, and after that 20-run over, Otago needed only play sensibly to achieve the target.
A short period of consolidation followed that burst, but the boundaries began again in earnest in the 15th over, with James Neesham joining in. A square boundary off Nuwan Kulasekara's third over gave ten Doeschate his fifty off 26 balls, and when he had departed after another lucrative over, Otago needed only 9 from 17 balls. Neesham needed only five of those.
In Kandurata's innings, Tharanga was starved of his early penchant for off-side boundaries by a shrewd Otago strategy that prevented the kind of start he had achieved in their first match. McCullum placed a cover sweeper almost from the outset, and had his pace bowlers pitch it full and wide. If Tharanga flashed at the ball, he brought the two slips and catching infielders into play. If he played it along the ground, he would not muster enough power into the stroke to earn more than two.
Kandurata hit only 25 in the Powerplay as a result, and it wasn't until Nathan McCullum's offspin was introduced that Tharanga's innings finally gained traction. Two balls disappeared long and straight during the eighth over, and Tharanga exacted as heavy a toll in McCullum's next over, which also went for 15.
While he propelled the innings though, Otago made regular gains at the other end. Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne had both hit fifties in the first match, but were dismissed cheaply here, as short spells from Nick Beard and ten Doeschate crimped the scoring rate.
Having been 132 for 4 after 17 overs, Kandurata might have felt they should have surged beyond 160, but a fine 18th over from Ian Butler, from which three wickets were gleaned, left Kandurata at a sub-par total. Butler finished with the best figures for the Volts, earning 3 for 21, with James McMillan having taken 1 for 17 from his three overs.
This was Otago's 12th consecutive T20 win, the joint third longest streak in the format and, more importantly, leaves them on the verge of qualifying to the main tournament.