Plunket Shield final round: SBS Bank Otago Volts 387 in 104.2 overs (Bracewell 62, Ryan Duffy 40, de Boorder 78, Smith 42, Jacob Duffy career best 37) and 143 all out in 51.2 overs (Redmond 28; Nethula 4-24, Ferguson 4-45) lost to the Mondiale Auckland Aces 344 all out in 108.3 overs (Raval 52, Guptill-Bunce career best 88, Brad Cachopa 33, Nethula 31, Bates 30, Kitchen 64 off 49; Phillips 3-89) and 187/4 in 45.4 overs (Guptill-Bunce career best 91, Raval 63; Finnie 3-12) by six wickets at Colin Maiden Park, Auckland
Volts captain Aaron Redmond retired after this match. Watch "Redders" talking through his decision and reflecting on his domestic and international career.
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The outright was close and the Mondiale Auckland Aces openers were determined to nail it on their own as the final day of the 2014/15 domestic cricket season dawned over Colin Maiden Park. Resuming at 91/0, Michael Guptill-Bunce and Jeet Raval quickly began lashing the boundary, and had summoned an unbroken 150 stand off 188 balls inside the first 45 minutes of play.
At 160/0, now thoughts turned to whether 25-year-old Guptill-Bunce (cousin of BLACKCAP Martin Guptill), playing only his sixth match at this level, could cap the Aces' day with a maiden first-class century. The Aces required a further 26 runs to win as he moved for the first time into the 90s, having just exceeded the career best 88 he had posted in the first innings with a confident four off Rhys Phillips.
But cricket always seems to have one last twist in store. In his next over, Phillips finally broke the opening partnership — and it was the gutted Guptill-Bunce who was gone, caught behind for a 99-ball 91.
The loss may have shocked Jeet Raval just long enough to let the Volts back in for a double whammy, Raval stumped by de Boorder in the very next over, off Josh Finnie. Raval had completed twin half-centuries in the match and now only a further 27 runs were required for victory, so it was hardly chastening for the hosts — but suddenly they were three down as Finnie struck again in his next over, Carl Cachopa send back caught for just the one run's addition.
Now Robbie O'Donnell and Anaru Kitchen were in charge of bringing it home. O'Donnell tapped a boundary of Phillips to get the run chase chugging again, but he was gone just as smartly, too, bowled by Finnie: the Aces 166/4 at drinks, 21 runs still to get.
Four wickets having crashed in the space of six overs, teenager Finnie suddenly had 3-7. Now it was allrounder Donovan Grobbelaar's chance to do the honours with Kitchen. All it took was another five overs before he clipped a boundary off Phillips to win the game. The Volts had been unable to give their retiring skipper Aaron Redmond the send-off they had hoped for, the Aces taking a six-wicket win to end the season.
When Volts skipper Aaron Redmond wrapped his mitt around the catch that dismissed Tarun Nethula for no addition to his overnight score of 31, it meant much more than a wicket. The Volts were the last team in the competition in the position of still needing bonus points to keep their hopes alive, and Jacob Duffy's early breakthrough had just picked up the vital point for the seventh wicket inside the 110 overs cut-off.
It put the Volts on 98 points, level with the Knights: now their hopes remained alive. One more bowling point and the Knights, at least, were out of their calculations.
The Mondiale Auckland Aces had already picked up a batting point for reaching 250 before Nethula's fall, but for the hosts at Colin Maiden (now on 102 points), the concern had shifted to what was going on in Mount Maunganui. Two early second innings wickets there had got Canterbury off to a good start on day three. Canterbury were sitting on 110 points: an outright was all they required, but if the Knights got up, at this stage the Aces, and the Volts, were still in it. The talk at every venue was all about how exciting and tense it was: two days left in the season, four teams still on the edge of their seats!
Anaru Kitchen's delayed appearance in the order meant the Aces still had plenty of batting. By drinks, he and captain Michael Bates (whose 25 included a six off Craig Smith) had cracked on to an unbroken 60-run stand for the eighth wicket, Kitchen closing in on a half-ton. The Volts' lead had been sliced to 72.
Drinks took a wicket, however, Bates dismissed next over by Smith who had him caught behind on 30. It was the end of the 106th over: the Volts were still on course for a fourth bonus point to mathematically edge them over the Knights.
Kitchen's rip-roaring 64 off 49 balls came to an end when top order destroyer Rhys Phillips came back for his third, ending the Aces' innings just 43 runs shy of the Volts' tally. The Volts had maximum bowling points: one mission accomplished. But while they had been pinning that down, the Knights had managed to lose all 10 wickets in a session to put Canterbury in a strong position at the Mount. Surely it was too late for both the Volts and Aces, now, as Canterbury set off on a tame chase?
Back at Colin Maiden Oval, everyone present stood and applauded Volts captain Redmond as he walked out to open the batting for one final time. He got them through to the lunch break, after the early loss of Hamish Rutherford who had been caught behind off Matt Quinn. The swansong innings would last almost an hour before Redmond, in the middle session, was himself caught behind on 28 off the well-performed Lockie Ferguson, ending a career that began in the 1999/2000 season and spanned 129 first-class games.
He would not have liked it to have remained the Volts' highest score of the innings, mind, but it threatened to be so as a further three wickets fell before tea, and two more soon after. Meanwhile, the remote hopes of any Shield glory had gone, Canterbury having sewn up their defence at the Mount.
Derek de Boorder reprised his role as dogged would-be innings rescuer, and would be the last wicket down, caught on 29. Unfortunately for the Volts, that was the top score. Their dig had lasted only 51.2 overs as they folded for 143, setting the Aces a target of 187 and a whole day and a bit in which to get them.
Tarun Nethula had once again been rewarded for his exacting efforts, the leggie picking up Roald Badenhorst and Neil Wagner in successive overs en route to fine figures of 4-24 off 15. Likewise, Lockie Ferguson enjoyed his afternoon, his 4-45 including that last, stubborn wicket of de Boorder, who had held on for more than two hours.
By day's end, the Aces had put themselves in an even better position to wrap on the final morning, Michael Guptill-Bunce charging to his second half-century in the match, unbeaten on 60 off 57 balls at stumps. The Aces were 91 without loss, needing just 96 further runs to end their summer with an outright.
The Volts' tail continued to wag as Phillips and Jacob Duffy added a further 32 runs before Ferguson had Duffy caught behind for a gallant 37 off 51 balls. Remarkably, they had broken a Volts record that had stood since the 1946/47 season for the best 10th wicket stand against their opponents.
It was the highest first-class score for the 20-year-old Duffy, but bitterweet as his wicket meant the Volts missed out on a fourth batting bonus point by just 13 runs after the game and aggressive last stand.
The Aces needed 388, now, to better the Volts' first innings effort, but still the emphasis was on picking up maximum bonus points — the weather now suddenly humid, sweltery and cloudy. Bowling weather for the Volts?
The Aces' openers had other ideas with Jeet Raval and Michael Guptill-Bunce making a solid start. They had put on 89 for the first wicket, Raval taking a half-century before he was undone by Rhys Phillips who had him caught and bowled on 52 shortly after lunch.
Guptill-Bunce pressed on to his first half-century at first-class level. By tea, he had reached 60, the Aces still trailing by 248 runs but, at only two down, looking well placed to reach at least some of the batting targets for bonus points. By close of play they were just three runs shy of chalking up the first one, but more tenuously positioned now at six down.
Guptill-Bunce's career best innings had ended on 88, caught off Ryan Phillips. Dependable Brad Cachopa found 33 runs before he was trapped leg before by Neil Wagner in the last handful of overs before stumps, Tarun Nethula unbeaten on 31 overnight with the Aces 140 runs in arrears.
Contributions throughout the order helped the SBS Bank Otago Volts fend off a determined Mondiale Auckland Aces attack on a sun-soaked first day at Auckland's Colin Maiden Park.
The Aces had sent the southerners in, paceman Matt Quinn using the early movement to his advantage as he busted through both Volts captain Aaron Redmond — playing his last match for before retirement — and Hamish Rutherford to have the openers back in the shed with the tally 37/2.
Veteran Redmond had been the young quick's 50th first-class wicket, but as the deck quickly flattened out in the sun, half centuries by Michael Bracewell and the patient, calm Derek de Boorder (78 off 144 balls) steadied the ship and ultimately got the Volts into a useful position, 355/9 at stumps.
While the Aces kept themselves on target with maximum bowling points, they were also frustrated as the afternoon lingered on and the Volts tailenders remained at the crease, Rhys Phillips (16 not out) and Jacob Duffy (13 not out) on an unbroken 31-run 10th wicket stand overnight.
Quinn, Michael Bates and Tarun Nethula all picked up two wickets for Auckland.