Charging Stags crush Aces

A devastating 6-55 from leg spinner Tarun Nethula polished of the Auckland Aces with a session to spare to maintain the Devon Hotel Central Stags' number one position at the top of the Plunket Shield charts.

The Stags had set the Aces a chase of 343 to win, declaring at 457/7 an hour into the morning session. Kruger van Wyk was unbeaten on 58 and Doug Bracewell contributed a handy 77, their 126-run partnership rubbing it in against the home team.

Auckland then made a disastrous start before lunch, 59/3 at the break, Craig Cachopa and Gareth Hopkins fresh at the crease together and needing a steep 284 runs from the 70 overs remaining in the match.

Nethula had struck just once in the morning session, trapping young opener Michael Guptill-Bunce leg before wicket, but after Bevan Small bowled Cachopa cheaply, he made the most of the sun-baked, day four pitch and ripped through the Aces' order with 5 wickets in the session, beginning by bowling Colin de Grandhomme for a two-ball duck.

The slaughter was complete when number 11 Chris Martin was stumped for another zero, formalising a comprehensive 191-run victory for the Stags and figures of 6 for 55 off 13 overs for Nethula, who had been wicketless in the first innings. The win sees the Stags hold onto a 13-point lead over the Otago Volts with two matches in hand.

Day three: How hundred a highlight

A century by Jamie How and his emphatic opening stand, with Jeet Raval, of 173 put the Devon Hotel Central Stags in charge of day three at Eden Park.

Raval was only wicket of the morning, caught by Tim McIntosh off Bruce Martin after a patient 77. His consolation was having shared in a Central Districts first-wicket record against the Aces - beating the previous record by a single run, to help lay a platform for his side with prospects of an imposing lead.

By lunch that lead was 107, by tea it was 180 after the Aces bit back with four wickets in the middle session - including century-maker How, who was caught by substitute fieldsman Lockie Ferguson off Bruce Martin for 124, the innings peppered with six sixes. Carl Cachopa had since collected a half-century, Ross Taylor a start, Noema-Barnett a duck and now Sinclair and van Wyk were new together at the crease, the Stags needing a batsman to kick on and ram home the advantage.

Michael Bates picked up his third wicket when he bowled Sinclair on 27, but van Wyk proved stubborn and by stumps had watchfully ground out a 62-run partnership with Doug Bracewell for an overnight lead of 271 with four wickets in hand.

Day two: Cachopa makes it consecutive tons

Losing six wickets for 97 runs in the middle session of day two saw the Auckland Aces throw away their chance to build massive gains on the Devon Hotel Central Stags on day two.

Having started the day at 142/3, Craig Cachopa and Gareth Hopkins knuckled down through the bulk of the morning session with Cachopa particularly severe on leg-spinner Tarun Nethula - who had provided welcome relief for the batsmen since the length and fire of Doug Bracewell had been difficult to despatch at the other end.

The eventual introduction of Jeet Raval saw Cachopa, on 93 at the time, lose his batting ally of over two hours when Hopkins was trapped in front of his wicket for 32, the pair having brought up a 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket and on the cusp of overtaking the Stags' first-innings tally.

Unrattled, Cachopa's second century in as many innings arrived off the very next over as he smashed two boundaries off his brother Carl. His third first-class hundred had been rustled up in 134 balls in typically bullish style, and included three sixes to go with 14 boundaries.

When Cachopa was caught after lunch by Mathew Sinclair off Bracewell, his account closing at 145, it triggered a collapse that saw Bevan Small collect his maiden five-for and the Aces, all out by tea, take a lead of 115 - surely a far smaller cushion than they had anticipated.

Stags openers Jamie How and Jeet Raval then piled on an unbeaten stand of 107, each batsman raising the bat for their half-centuries by stumps with just 8 runs required in the morning to extinguish the Aces' first innings lead.

Day one: Auckland dominate day one

Facing the challenge of bounding back from an innings defeat to hauling down the front-running Devon Hotel Central Stags, the Auckland Aces got off to an ideal start at Eden Park's outer oval.

Having won the toss on an overcast morning, the Aces' experienced Chris Martin and teenaged pace and swing understudy Matt Quinn quickly sliced the top off the Stags' innings, Martin claiming Jamie How with the first ball of his third over and then adding How's opening partner Jeet Raval after Quinn had likewise bowled Carl Cachopa for little cost.

That brought Mathew Sinclair and Ross Taylor together to weather the moving ball after barely an hour's play, but a much-needed partnership was broken in the hour before lunch when Colin de Grandhomme trapped Taylor in front of his wicket for 17. Sinclair fell to Bates in the very next over, the Stags now well on the back foot at 72/5 after just 20 overs.

Kieran Noema-Barnett and Kruger van Wyk were left to pick up the pieces, Noema-Barnett grabbing a quick 50 by lunch. But after van Wyk edged one behind off Martin, the Stags crumbled in the middle session - Bates removing both Noema-Barnett, who top-scored with 67, and Bevan Small in consecutive balls.

At stumps the Aces were 142/3 in reply with Craig Cachopa on the brink of a half-century and 91 further runs needed to overhaul the Stags' 233. Chasing his maiden half-century, Martin Guptill-Bunce was run out on 47.

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