Auckland elevate into first place in Provincial A

Auckland beat Otago by seven wickets in a well-paced run chase to claim a crucial four points and overtake Wellington at the top of the Provincial A points table in Lincoln.

The defending champs surpassed Otago’s first innings total of 246 all out after 45.5 overs, with Cameron Fletcher (43*) and Jono Sole (60*) seeing out the task.

Auckland were always in full control of the pursuit, with openers Tim McIntosh (38) and Michael Barry (45) putting on 55 for the opening wicket.

The fall of McIntosh in the 13th over didn’t create much of an opening for Otago, with Dusan Hakaraia continuing his good from with 46. Both he and Barry fell just short of a half-century, but it didn’t impact the game’s result.

Fletcher played sensibly for an unbeaten 43 off 53, while Sole brought the aggression with five sixes in his unbeaten 60 from 35 balls.

It helped them to finish the deal with 3.1 overs in hand and take the lead in the tournament for the first time.

Otago on the other hand will be bitterly disappointed they hadn’t posted a larger total.

At 120 without loss after 20.3 overs they were heading for a score of 300 plus. Both openers in Ryan Duffy and Jesse Simpson looked comfortable at the crease, but had their partnership broken when Duffy was run out on 64.

Two further wickets fell in the space of four runs and the southerners were now in a slightly less convincing position at 124 for three. Simpson worked his way up to 77, before being bowled by Donavon Deeble in the 32nd over.

It was the start of a devastating spell by Deeble, who went on to claim a five wicket bag and finish with figures of five for 33 from 8.5 overs.

The only one to really contribute aside from the opening pair was Iain Robertson. The number five took Otago past 200 with 63, but in the end also succumbed to Deeble with 4.5 overs remaining.

The tail was brushed aside easily and Otago were dismissed with more than four overs remaining.

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