Auckland Aces lost to the Wellington Firebirds at Eden Park Outer Oval on 10 December 2017
- Record 4th wicket List A partnership for any team v Wellington Firebirds (140 by Cachopa/Chapman - previous best for Auckland was 99 by Gareth Hopkins/Colin Munro in Wellington 2012/13; previous best for any team was 124 by Mathew Sinclair/Jarrod Englefield for the Central Stags in Wellington, 2004/05).
- Third List A century for Mark Chapman (second for Auckland Aces)
- Stephen Murdoch reached 1500 List A runs when he passed 36; third List A century
- Malcolm Nofal: career best List A score for Wellington Firebirds (previously 19)
Two sides went into Round Three unbeaten. Neither of them emerged at the end of it unscathed, with both the Auckland Aces and Otago Volts taking their first white ball hit of the season.
For the Aces the sting had a little salt rubbed into it given it was against the winless, cellar-bound Firebirds, and at their home fortress of Eden Park Outer Oval where they traditionally dominate.
Not only that, the five-wicket DLS defeat was despite a blistering, career best and quick unbeaten 125 from middle order dynamo Mark Chapman.
Showery conditions would invoke the DLS system in the chase on an overcast day, after Firebirds captain Hamish Bennett had gleefully won the toss, keen to bowl first.
However, the Aces’ openers got their side off to a fast start before a couple of quick wickets got the visitors back into the contest, Colin Munro a big wicket on just 12.
At 41 for three in the ninth over captain, Craig Cachopa and Mark Chapman came together and started taking the game to their opponents.
The pair put on 140 runs for the fourth wicket, manipulating the field well, with the occasional showing of brute power.
Cachopa’s mature 60 was just the ticket and when he departed in the 32nd, Chapman was set to take control.
The full bag of tricks was on show from the powerful left-hander, his unbeaten 125 including 12 fours and two sixes at better than run-a-ball.
As the innings drew to a close, Chapman was playing all around the clock, delighting spectators at the Outer Oval on an otherwise gloomy afternoon.
When rain set in at the end of the 46th over, the Aces’ innings was cut short at 266 for seven.
A revised target of 274 off 43 overs was set down for the Firebirds’ chase, but it was the Aces who had the best of the opening exchanges, Mitchell McClenaghan removing Hamish Marshall cheaply.
Malcolm Nofal and Stephen Murdoch were up for the fight on the day, however, and put on a brilliant 129 runs for the second wicket, the bowlers with no answers until McClenaghan returned and snaffled Nofal’s wicket for 51.
Murdoch kept going, bashing his way to an 80-ball century, 117 off only 91 balls his third List A ton.
A late flurry of wickets from Lockie Ferguson wasn’t enough to stunt the Firebirds’ chase, the accomplished South African domestic player Devon Conway’s late cameo of 43 not out and Luke Woodcock seeing them home in the 38th over as the Aces dropped back to second on the points table.
The Ford Trophy now goes into remission until late January 2018, resuming at the completion of Burger King Super Smash which begins this Wednesday afternoon.
The Aces will lie in wait for the Central Stags at Eden Park Outer Oval for their opening T20 on Wednesday while the Firebirds will be looking to get their defence off to a flier away to the Knights at Seddon Park on Friday evening this week.
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