Get set for smashing Waitangi weekend viewing | MBUTCHER

Crunch time is now

The long Waitangi weekend in New Zealand is bringing four huge Dream11 Super Smash doubleheaders to entertain you as teams gear up to fight to the end for the remaining spots in the Finals!

These are our last eight regular season games before the two Finals - which are coming up fast on Thursday (2v3 Elimination Finals) and Saturday (the big one!) next week, with all the action as follows:


At Hamilton's Seddon Park from 3PM:

• Northern Brave v Central Hinds

• Northern Brave v Central Stags (under lights)


At Christchurch's Hagley Oval from 10AM:

• Canterbury Magicians v Otago Sparks

• Canterbury Kings v Otago Volts


At Wellington's Cello Basin Reserve from 10AM:

• Wellington Blaze v Auckland Hearts

• Wellington Firebirds v Auckland Aces


At Dunedin's University of Otago Oval from 11AM:

• Otago Sparks v Canterbury Magicians

• Otago Volts v Canterbury Kings


The only team to have already absolutely inked in their qualifying position is Wellington Blaze, the number one women's side. That leaves chasing teams with everything to play for, and emotional celebrations - and sporting heartbreak - coming up over the next four days.

Northern Brave's women and the Central Hinds will be playing for pride tomorrow afternoon, both having bowed out of the women's title race.

Pride is a huge motivator with the Hinds hoping to snaffle their first win at their 10th attempt, to finish a challenging T20 summer on a high.

They face a team that has been unlucky with the weather, sharing points on three occasions from their nine rounds so far.

The Brave women's only win was an absolute nailbiter against the Hinds in New Plymouth on New Year's Eve, so they will be hoping to make it two from two against the Hinds before returning their attention to the one-day Hallyburton Johnstone Shield the following day.

Here's a recap of the exciting last encounter:

The men's clash under the light towers at Seddon is going to be curtains for one of the teams.

If Northern Brave's men win, they lock in a berth in the Elimination Final. If the Central Stags win, they take that berth in the Elimination Final instead.

And if it's a tie or no result, Northern Brave still has the advantage over the Stags on net run rate so the Stags have only one option left, and that's to beat the defending champions at home.

The Wellington Firebirds will be watching this one closely, as the latter scenario could see the Firebirds get up for that qualification spot themselves.

But if the Stags or Brave get a win, it's bye bye to the capital men who won't be able to catch them from fifth spot, with just their one game to go.

Saturday sees the first of a fascinating double-double over the long weekend between the great South Island rivals and neighbours, Otago and Canterbury.

All four of these teams - the Kings, Volts, Magicians and Sparks - are sitting in the top three, with two games to go. It's the best place to be right now, but there's still work to be done and games to be won to lock it all in.

The Kings and Volts are both on 20 points, two points ahead of Northern Brave and the Stags.

That means a win on Saturday will see one of these teams lock in qualification for the Finals, with the final placings to be sorted out when they meet again on Waitangi Day Monday.

The Kings hold the edge on net run rate at the moment, with the men's top qualifier to host the two Grand Finals and the women's top qualifier - Wellington - to host the two Elimination Finals this season.

If the Magicians beat the Sparks, they will go through as the second qualifier. The Sparks need to win twice to overtake the Magicians who sit in second spot, and the Sparks will have one nervous eye on the Auckland Hearts' game if they don't succeed.

Sunday is the big day this weekend for the Wellington teams at home at the Cello Basin Reserve.

The scorching Blaze will be strongly motivated to continue their amazing unbeaten streak, while the Firebirds, with a good net run rate, will either be playing for pride, or looking for one last, big push to qualify, depending on Friday night's results in Hamilton.

Their opponents the Auckland Aces are out of contention, but the women's game is a huge one for the Auckland Hearts who have just been bumped down from third to fourth spot by the Otago Sparks.

Both the Sparks and Hearts are on 18 points, with the Sparks currently in the third spot on the table on net run rate. A win to the Hearts will be vital here for Auckland fans to keep their hopes alive.

Their fate will then ultimately be determined by what happens the next day in Dunedin at Uni Oval. That's when the Canterbury and Otago teams go again, with all the excitement of locking in Dream11 Super Smash Finals boiling down to the very last doubleheader of the 2022/23 regular season!

Oh, and remember this? If it's T20... anything could happen on the day. So don't miss a ball!