The Auckland Aces charged to an emphatic win over the Central Stags, beating them by seven wickets in the penultimate round of the HRV Cup at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland.
Poor weather delayed the start of play and the match was reduced a 15 over affair with Central scratching their way throw to 90 for nine before the Aces struck 91 for three in 10.1 overs.
Despite being greeted with fading light the Aces openers got the run chase off to a flyer, peeling eighteen runs of the first over.
The form opening pair of the competition, Martin Guptill and Azhar Mahmood, continued to trade off some loose deliveries before the first wicket fell with the score on 37 - Guptill skiing a short Doug Bracewell delivery to third man for 18.
Mahmood followed soon after for a run-a-ball 19 with Mathew Sinclair taking a sharp chance off a Tarun Nethula wrong-un.
Nethula struck again with the next ball, nicking out Aces captain Gareth Hopkins to have the home side teetering at 46 for three.
However, Kitchen and Colin de Grandhomme chipped away at the modest target with ease, playing an array of shots either side of the track, with Kitchen especially strong through the leg side.
The big hitting Kitchen capped off the match with two lusty sixes to end the match with an unbeaten 34 off 22 deliveries while de Grandhomme was there at finish on 11.
Nethula finished with two for 12 off three overs.
Earlier, Central couldn’t recover from a disastrous start that saw them struggle to gain any sort of ascendency over a disciplined Aces bowling and fielding effort.
Jamie How went early for nine before two quality run-outs reduced the Stags to 24 for three. Firstly, a Guptill direct hit got rid of Peter Ingram for 14 before Andre Adams threw down the stumps to remove Kieran Noema-Barnett for a duck.
Mathew Sinclair (2) and Jacob Oram (13) didn’t stick around with the situation prompting Ross Taylor to fight back. The New Zealand Skipper took to Bruce Martin, hammering the spinner for consecutive sixes but went for one too many as his third attempt induced a top edge that was caught in close to have the dangerman dismissed for Central’s top score of 21.
Kruger van Wyk chipped in with thirteen and Bevan Small made nine not out to finish off the Central innings.
Auckland spinner Ronnie Hira was outstanding, taking two for 16 off three overs while Kyle Mills, Michael Bates and Bruce Martin all chipped in with one wicket apiece.