Central Districts will face their nemesis yet again this season when they square up to Wellington in a Twenty20 match at the Basin Reserve today.
Flogged by his bat earlier in the season, Central's bowlers will be hoping for a belated Christmas gift from Jesse Ryder in the form of a quick dismissal.
Central have yet to get their HRV Cup campaign properly under way.They fielded a couple of modest sides in their previous losses to Northern Districts and Wellington, but are not far off full strength today.
Jacob Oram will turn out for the first time this season and around him, the usual regulars of Jamie How and Mathew Sinclair will be on deck, while Adam Milne and Zimbabwean Kyle Jarvis should provide some penetration with the new ball.
Central's quick bowlers were appalling last time out against Wellington and surely won't be that bad again.
If fit to play, the returning Tarun Nethula and Kieran Noema-Barnett would add some welcome balance to the Stags' attack.
On paper, Wellington possess a balanced and talented side. But, if Ryder doesn’t go big, then they don’t tend to fire.
The Firebirds have a two win, two loss record so far, in which time they’ve also shown that their trait Ryder doesn’t go big, then they don’t tend to fire.
The Firebirds have a two win, two loss record so far, in which time they’ve also shown that their trait of shying away from the big moments hasn’t changed.
Ryder, with 90 off 75 and 75 from 26, in their victories over Canterbury and Central Districts, took all the pressure off his team-mates.
Likewise, having Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait for that Canterbury game enabled the bowlers to quietly go about their work, safe in the knowledge that Tait was able to carry the attack on his broad shoulders.
The Firebirds flogged the Stags in this summer’s previous meeting, winning by 55 runs in a one-sided encounter at McLean Park.
But they are coming off a poor effort against Otago – beaten by 82 runs on Sunday.
Wellington have decent imports in Tamim Iqbal and Chris Woakes, and, it appears, a Black Cap in the making in New Zealand-born Aussie wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi.
Scott Kuggeleijn is emerging as a late-middle order batsman of some prowess but his runs should be regarded as bonus ones at this stage of his career.
Elsewhere, Auckland host Northern at Eden Park, while Otago travel up to Timaru to meet Canterbury.
The Wizards have signed Aussie quick bowler Mitchell Claydon for the rest of their campaign, after the deal they had with West Indian Dwayne Smith fell through.
Claydon is a left-handed batsman and a right-arm medium pacer.
Is Ma'a Nonu returning to the Hurricanes ...Related story: Ma'a Nonu's return to Hurricanes confirmed
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates