SUNDAY 2 FEBRUARY 2020
AUCKLAND ACES BEAT CENTRAL STAGS by 4 wickets
• Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
Not only did Jeet Raval celebrate his 50th List A match today with the third century of his Ford Trophy career, the opening batsman's superb knock ensured his Auckland Aces became the first side to qualify for this season’s national one-day playoffs.
The Ford Trophy Elimination Final is now just 10 days away, with all teams still in contention - but the Aces in pole to go on to direct entry to the Grand Final.
Just one more win from the remaining two rounds will also lock in a home Grand Final for the competition frontrunners after the Aces extended their lead with a four-wicket win over Raval’s old side the Central Stags at Pukekura Park today.
Despite falling to the Wellington Firebirds yesterday at the Basin, Canterbury can in theory still overtake the Aces for top spot - but the Aucklanders remain in control of their own destiny, having dropped only two games from eight rounds, with two games still to play in their regular season.
Today's victory at Pukekura Park continued a recent trend for the Aucklanders on trips to New Plymouth, and will leave the Stags fighting for survival on Wednesday at the Basin Reserve.
Northern Districts’ clash with the Volts in Dunedin was meanwhile rained off, the two teams picking up just two points each for the washout, but still capable of fighting their way into the top three from a mid-table logjam.
Raval’s 118 off 120 balls was the second-highest List A score of his nine-year career, sitting behind his 149 for the Aces against Canterbury at Colin Maiden Park in 2017/18 and eclipsing the maiden 115 he scored alongside Jamie How for the Stags in The Ford Trophy all-time record opening partnership at Seddon Park in 2012/13.
After having been sent in at their one-time fortress by Aces captain Craig Cachopa and coming up some 30 runs shy of par on a warm, humid New Plymouth afternoon, a bright spot for the hosts was a bittersweet 98 off just 109 balls for 21-year-old Bayley Wiggins in his first List A innings.
#FORDTROPHY | The Aces chase is underway at Pukekura Park, we're out to defend 282/8, Bayley Wiggins' 98 in his first List A innings the highlight #LOVETHESTAGS— Central Stags 🏏 (@CentralStags) February 2, 2020
LIVE: https://t.co/qgVghfgnDx pic.twitter.com/66JqYblpCZ
The Hawke's Bay youngster wasn’t required to bat on Ford Trophy debut in the Stags’ win over the Volts on Wednesday, but was promoted to opener on this occasion and delivered a nerveless maiden innings until he was bowled by Ben Lister just one hit shy of reaching a rare List A ton on debut.
Another welcome sight for the Stags was the return of allrounder Doug Bracewell from a season-long injury layoff. Whilst Bracewell went wicketless, he hit his length immediately for a relatively economical return, going for less than run a ball at a ground generally renowned as a bowler’s graveyard.
Meanwhile, a washout in Dunedin between the Volts and Northern Districts meant points were shared, a bonus for the Stags whose slim qualification hopes rest on other results.