Ben Lister’s maiden List A five-wicket bag has ensured the Auckland Aces' Ford Trophy campaign is off to a flier, topping the table after their opening round win against defending champions the Firebirds.
The young left-armer took a sizzling 2-6 (icluding two maidens) in his opening spell, while sharp catches and ground fielding also helped the hosts pile on early pressure against their visitors.
Inevitably BLACKCAP Martin Guptill was amongst it, casually reaching high above his head to pouch Devon Conway’s outside edge off Danru Ferns.
Robert O’Donnell took a comfortable catch diving to his left to end a scoreless Michael Bracewell's stint at 25 for three, before Matt McEwan charged in for his first delivery and Guptill was in the game again at a wide first slip to remove Andrew Fletcher at 35 for four.
Malcolm Nofal and Jamie Gibson staged a brief fightback, left-hander Nofal blasting two sixes onto the Eden Park concourse before Lister came back in for his wicket.
Lister then held a brilliant caught and bowled to claim keeper-batsman Laurie Johns as his fourth, leaving the Firebirds reeling at 79/6.
Jamie Gibson had a big job on his hands steadying the capital ship, and he approached the job with due caution - and reaching a much-needed maiden List A half century off 78 balls.
He put on 70 for the eighth wicket with fellow allrounder Logan van Beek - before Sean Solia ended the stand, van Beek caught on 29 in the 37th over.
Another fine Guptill catch in the 45th over to dismiss Jeetan Patel ended the Firebirds’ innings at 191, giving Lister his superb haul of 5-18 in the process.
Defending their 191 all out, the Firebirds responded with a fired-up start of their own with the ball, despite missing influential skipper Hamish Bennett with injury.
Ollie Newton (3-32) stood up and took all three of his wickets inside the first seven overs and, when Craig Cachopa’s flick picked out short fine leg, the Aces were in strife at 33 for four.
Solia and O’Donnell had the appropriate response, however, putting on a match-defining 108 runs for the fifth wicket with O’Donnell reached his fourth List A fifty off 70 balls.
Solia then clocked up his seventh List A fifty and, in doing so, 1000 List A runs.
Picking up the pace after their milestones, the final 15 runs came in a hurry with Solia unbeaten on 65* off 92 deliveries and a valuable bonus point in the bank for the Aces, the four-wicket opening round win completed with an impressive 10.4 overs to spare.