New Zealand's premier Twenty20 competition enters a brave new world at Seddon Park in Hamilton this weekend, with the pre-determined finals format in place for the first time.
The Northern Knights, who have the good fortune to play at their home base, will take on the Canterbury Wizards in Friday night's Preliminary Final, with the winner taking on the Otago Volts, who lie in wait in the final.
The Wizards are arguably the form team of the competition, having beaten the Knights on Sunday to make the finals. "The last three or four matches have been hard matches and must-win games, and we've won them all. We're going in on a bit of a roll, and we're happy with the way we've been playing," said skipper Peter Fulton, who has confidence in his side to get the job done in Hamilton. "One of the things we've had going for us in the last few weeks is that a lot of guys have chipped in, we're not relying on one player in particular. That's part of what makes us dangerous, is that we've got a lot of guys who, if they come off on the day, can win you a game."
Peter Fulton is happy with his team's momentum.
The new Finals Weekend format is something that Fulton is excited to be part of - "I think it's pretty good, when you see the way it works in other parts of the world, like in England, it's a good way of generating as much interest as possible. The two games in two days really puts the domestic game in the spotlight, which is a good thing."
The Knights Daniel Flynn isn't unhappy the scheduled matches in Hamilton hand his side 'home advantage': "We're obviously fortunate in that regard, getting to play at Seddon Park, where we've had a bit of success, plays into our hands a little bit I suppose."
Daniel Flynn - keen to take advantage of 'home' advantage.
The Knights welcome back Australian pro Chris Tremain, who was part of the team at the start of the season - fitting several overseas players into their line up hasn't presented any problems for the team as they aim to win a competition for the first time and qualify for the Champions League: "We've been really lucky and had some good guys come in who've brought into what we're trying to do. The Champions League carrot is obviously exiting - everyone's aware of what's at stake.
That said, Flynn isn't getting ahead of the first task of overcoming the Wizards. "We've lost to them both times in round robin - they're playing some good cricket at the moment and have won three or four straight and are coming in with plenty of confidence, they're going to be tough for us, but we've got the players there who are more than capable of doing it."
Otago Volts captain Derek de Boorder is happy with being safely in the final, and with his side's preparations: "We're looking pretty good, we've had a good week's training - it's quite nice to know you're playing just one game, obviously we don't know who the opposition are yet, but your planning is based around two teams, hopefully we can be a bit more refreshed than the team that has had to play the Friday."
Derek de Boorder: Keen to repeat last year's success.
While the Volts have brought West Indian fast bowler Jason Holder into the side, de Boorder is equally excited about the players who've gotten them this far: "It's great to have BLACKCAPS Hamish Rutherford and Neil Wagner in the mix, and Ryan ten Doeschate and Jacob Duffy did a great job against Wellington, I think most of our guys are looking forward to the Final."
de Boorder has no preference about who the Volts will meet in the final: "Both teams have strengths and weaknesses like anyone, and are as dangerous as each other and will be coming off a win, obviously. We found that last year when we got on a roll." After the Champions League run of 2013, when the Volts performed strongly but exited unluckily, he's keen to get back: "There's always unfinished business until you win that competition I think. Making sure we can get back there is the first step obviously - we've got a slightly different squad to the group that played last year, and hopefully we can get one more game out of them. "
Get along to Seddon Park to catch all the action - tickets are available on the gate.
Active Post will have activities, prizes and a bouncy castle for the kids.
If you're at the ground or watching from home, hit us up on Twitter, using the #hrvt20 tag.
In the event of rain:
1. Northern Knights will qualify for the Final should the Preliminary Final be rained out due to a higher finishing position in the round robin
2. Should the Final not be completed on Saturday night, Sunday is a Reserve Day with the game to begin at 10.30am
All six HRV Twenty20 mascots will be there and up to no good, no doubt. They've been training hard for this...