PLUNKET SHIELD | ROUND EIGHT OF EIGHT
Otago Volts drew with Auckland Aces
University of Otago Oval, Dunedin
17-20 March 2019
First innings bonus points:
Batting: Otago Volts 4 (maximum achieved), 1 (completed)
Bowling: Auckland Aces 2 (completed), Otago Volts 4 (maximum achieved)
It would be a farewell to cricket for two Otago Volts at the end of the season and their team was determined to send veteran batsman Brad Wilson and pace bowler Warren Barnes off well. It would be a tough ask, however, after the Aces had dug their toes in on the penultimate day, and the Volts had spent a long time in the dirt.
A ground delay greeted the final day of the season at Uni Oval with play put back to 12.45pm. Once players took the field, overnight centurion Graeme Beghin was immediately underway with a boundary, bringing up the Aces' 200.
Beghin would bat through the entire session, reaching 139 not out by lunch. By then, he had been joined by Glenn Phillips after Matt Bacon had picked up Matt McEwan in the session — but not before the nightwatchman had posted a half century.
McEwan's breezy 53 off 58 balls (including five boundaries and three sixes) was just the fifth first-class half century of his career, and second for the Aces.
After almost six hours at the crease, Beghin's emphatic maiden ton would finally be over on 140 shortly after lunch, having taken the Aces to 302 for three and into the lead. It would become Barnes's final wicket for the Otago side.
Bacon would eventually pick up three from the innings to finish in third spot on the season's overall wickets list, one of the big movers of the late season.
After the massive fightback from the Aces, however, the match would peter out into a draw at 373 for five, ending both teams' summers at tea.
It had been a long, long time since the Otago Volts had forced another team to follow on, but that's exactly what happened to the Auckland Aces after the hosts wrapped up the first innings before lunch.
All out for 247, the Aces still trailed by 236 while the Volts had done the job in 81 overs for the full kit bag of bonus points. They had been made to work for it by Ben Horne, however, who put up a fight from seven.
With fellow overnight batsman Will Somerville, Horne put on a dogged 54 for the seventh wicket as he fought to avoid an early breakthrough. However, when Somerville was caught behind off Matt Bacon after his 77-minute stand, one became two with Matt McEwan coming and going the next over.
Horne was now running out of partners. He reached 63 before becoming the final wicket, Bacon picking him up for 3-54 while Jacob Duffy finished his first account in the match with 3-63.
The Aces made a far more doughty start to their second innings, however, Graeme Beghin (below, PHOTOSPORT) and Sean Solia cutting the deficit to 102 by tea, for no loss.
The pair resumed the last session on 76* and 58*, respectively, Beghin equalling his previous first-class best of 58. A single from him soon had had the Aces' 150 up on the board, and the pair just kept their concentration going through the late afternoon.
On 97, Beghin hit his 20th boundary to reach his maiden first-class century, lofting Anaru Kitchen, and managing to avoid being caught in the deep in the process. His three figures had come off 160 balls in more than three and half hours, including one six.
Two balls later he celebrated with his second six, no half-chances this time as it sailed straight back over Kitchen's head with the score 181 for no loss, Solia on 74*, and on course to knock off the innings deficit all by themselves. How the four-day game can twist and turn.
The last hour was a dour affair, the pair determined to see each other through to stumps. But with just two overs remaining in the day, the Volts finally broke the stand on 193, Matt Bacon ecstatic to finally get one through Sean Solia, bowling him on 81. But the Volts' first innings lead, now, was just 43; and the end of the day Beghin and Matt McEwan had trimmed it further to 38. Beghin will resume on 110 not out.
The Otago Volts continued with their most emphatic batting performance of the season, surpassing 400 for the first time in 2018/19. Christi Viljoen, who had resumed on 9*, underpinned the morning session and reached his half century off 92 balls, before becoming Jamie Brown's second wicket on 57.
Viljoen had shared a 97-run stand with youngster Max Chu who also easily surpassed his previous career best, in his fledgling career. Chu went on to 41 before he had the misfortune to tread on his own wicket as he looked to play back to Will Somerville.
By now, however, the Volts were surging past the 400-mark, captain Jacob Duffy enjoying a bat, reaching 33* by lunch and still with two men to come.
The innings would ultimately reach a lofty 483, Duffy having just dropped his foot and pelted rather dashing back-to-back sixes over the leg side off Somerville before finding himself third time unlucky, caught on 71.
The brazen knock, his maiden Plunket Shield half century, easily exceeded the Otago captain's previous career best with the bat of 41, and had flown off just 53 balls (four boundaries and five sixes included).
Duffy's afternoon just got better with two Aces wickets falling early, Nathan Smith wrecking Sean Solia's stumps before Duffy himself had Graeme Beghin edging behind next over: from 23 for no loss to 23 for two.
Duffy would strike again before long, removing 21-year-old debutant Will O'Donnell cheaply to have the hosts 37 for three in just the 12th over of the reply. By tea, Glenn Phillips (33* at the break) and Robbie O'Donnell (22*) had advanced the score to 81.
Phillips would go on to rack up yet another score of 50 or better for the first-class season, pulling him level with Dane Cleaver in the bat-raising stakes. He'd lost two further partners, however, O'Donnell and Finn Allen both caught behind. Phillips would be left kicking himself on 92 when he miscued Nathan Smith and Hamish Rutherford dove in the slips to scoop up the catch, just a couple of overs before stumps, the Aces to resume still well behind at 177 for six.
The last round of the 2018/19 Plunket Shield began somberly with a minute's silence acknowledging the victims of the terrible tragedy in Christchurch two days earlier.
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The Auckland Aces opted to bowl first, and removed both opening the Volts' batsmen in the first session, the hosts 132 for two at lunch.
Hamish Rutherford had been the first to go at 63 for one, after having helped battle through the best part of the first hour. Cam Hawkins had reached 47 before Sean Solia had him bowled on 47 in the following over, but Mitch Renwick and Brad Wilson (below, PHOTOSPORT) steadied the ship from 63 for two.
The pair would go on to craft a partnership of more than 100 runs in the middle session, Renwick easing past his former career best score of 71. It had been his first season in Otago colours after formerly having represented the Central Stags, and he was coming off a 46 and 66 on the same ground in the previous round. Would this be the breakthrough innings?
Late in the middle session, his big moment would arrive, sealed with a boundary off Glenn Phillips: a maiden first-class century off 133 balls, including 15 fours and a six. The third-wicket partnership had grown to 164, the calm and experienced Wilson on 57*.
The pair were, unbeknown to the men in the middle of course, soon in sight of breaking a record that been held by Bert Sutcliffe and Bill Haigh since 1954/55, for third-wicket partnerships for the Volts against the Aces. The record stood at 199, but Wilson's dismissal at 248 for three stopped them at 185.
Wilson had batted for almost three hours for 71 before he was caught by Glenn Phillips off Jamie Brown, Anaru Kitchen joining Renwick on 109*, the Volts heading back into tea at 261 for three.
The last session would belong to the Aces, however, who claimed three wickets before the day ended with the Volts 320 for six. Renwick had been one of the wickets, finally removed on 131 when he was caught off Ben Lister. Renwick had batted almost four hours in his breakthrough innings, with 19 boundaries and one six.
Christi Viljoen will resume day two on 9* and Max Chu 5*, Lister with 3-46 overnight.