NORTHERN DISTRICTS drew with the AUCKLAND ACES
Cobham Oval, Whangarei
1-4 March 2019
First innings bonus points
Bowling: Northern Districts 2 (completed); Auckland Aces 2 (completed)
Batting: Auckland Aces 4 (maximum achieved); Northern Districts 2 (completed)
Total points this round: Northern Districts 4, Auckland Aces 6
By lunch on the final day in Whangarei interim leaders the Auckland Aces had stretched their overall lead to 228 runs, and just three down in their second innings. However, time had dragged on in the ultimately drawn affair.
Glenn Phillips (13*) and Robbie O'Donnell (9*) were pushing the score forward after a successful morning session for ND, one that had seen Ish Sodhi pick up both the positive Graeme Beghin (58) and Sean Solia (9) while young seamer Zak Gibson had rejoiced in the first breakthrough of the innings, claiming the big wicket of Martin Guptill, caught by that man Sodhi on 42, at 81 for one.
Now it was 118 for three, but the surface was almost too good for batting as the Aces ploughed on with batting practice into the mid afternoon. Scott Kuggeleijn put himself on a hat-trick by claiming O'Donnell (42) and Ben Horne, but by the time the match was called at tea time, the Aces were still only six down in the second innings, for 249 runs.
ND now heads to Napier for a tough challenge against the Central Stags while the Aces are away to barnstorming Canterbury at Rangiora from Saturday March 9 for the penultimate round of the 2018/19 first-class season.
From 106 for two, Northern Districts took their first innings through to 376 before being dismissed 92 runs shy of the Aces' first innings total. Overnight batsman Joe Carter and number seven and last to fall Scott Kuggeleijn ended up sharing top billing with 66, and late blasts from both Ish Sodhi (36) and a career-best unbeaten 31 from number eleven Zak Gibson helped the hosts' cause, but it was a relentless team effort from the Aces' attack.
Spinner Will Somerville bookended the innings with two wickets at the top and two at the end in his haul of four for 141, having bowled a marathon 54 overs.
He was complemented by 3-37 through the middle from speedster Lockie Ferguson while Glenn Phillips continued a strong all-round showing with his 3-71, albeit taking some tap in the process.
Commencing their second innings late in the final session, the Aces will head into the final day at 31 for no loss, leading by 123 overall but no doubt conscious of having sacrificed two bonus points whilst the chasing Stags picked up a full set in Napier against the Volts.
Northern Districts will resume day three at 106 for two, trailing by 362 with two fresh men at the crease in Tim Seifert and Joe Carter after the loss of both openers Henry Cooper and Bharat Popli put a spring in the Aces' step during the last session.
ND had begun their reply in the middle session after the Aces declared nine down at 468, Glenn Phillips left unbeaten on 138*.
Phillips had batted almost six hours for an impressive first-class career best, his third first-class century and first this season while the declaration was not enough to stop Ish Sodhi from picking up his 13th first-class bag, a haul of six for 127.
In Whangarei, Martin Guptill's seventh Plunket Shield century for the Auckland Aces provided the highlight for the visitors after batting first against ND.
Guptill's 120 off just 143 balls (12 x 4, 3 x 6) was the opener's 15th first-class century overall, and set up the Aces' solid first-day tally of 301 for five by stumps - the Plunket Shield leaders having garnered three of the four batting bonus points available, with a possibility of a fourth tomorrow morning.
After the early loss of Graeme Beghin, Guptill and Sean Solia (75) had put on 190 for the second wicket, a new second-wicket record between the two teams and eclipsing the mark of 175 that had been held by Blair Pocock and John Aitken (now better known as a reality TV series psychologist) since the 2000/01 season.
After Guptill was dismissed at 218 for three, two late wickets had ND sitting on two bowling bonus points overnight.