Aces edge out Firebirds to stay top

Auckland Aces underlined their HRV Cup cricket title credentials with a two-run win over Wellington Firebirds in a rain-shortened match.

The northerners remained atop the standings after securing their fourth win in five outings after the match was reduced to a 12 overs-per-side contest due to rain at the Basin Reserve.

Auckland scored 125 from five and Wellington responded in the growing gloom in the early evening with 123 for five after losing their bottle at the finish.

With Grant Elliott well set, Wellington should have got home but tall left-arm seam bowler Michael Bates gave away just four runs in the final over.

He beat new batsman Luke Woodcock three times outside off stump and when Wellington required a four off the last ball to tie and match, he bowled straight and full and restricted Woodcock to a two down the ground.

Elliott, who finished on 42 not out off 22 balls, had shared a third wicket stand of 67 runs in five overs with Neal Parlane, who made 40 off 23 before being run out as Wellington zeroed in on their target at 108 for three in the 10th over.

Medium pacer Colin Munro then picked up Chris Nevin and Stewart Rhodes cheaply and Wellington could not force their way over the line after having done all the hard work.

Auckland's competitive total was built on solid top order foundations and boosted at the end by Munro, who smacked 25 off 13 balls and helped take 19 off the final over by allrounder Harry Boam.

Opener Colin de Grandhomme set the pace, hitting 28 off 13 while left-hander Jimmy Adams made 32 off 14 and Anaru Kitchen 20 off 12.

Auckland fell away at one stage after losing three wickets for one run before Munro accelerated down the home straight.

Wellington's star Twenty20 signing, Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, marked the first of five appearances for the province by claiming one for 33 off three overs.


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