Released from the BLACKCAPS Test squad, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson instead spent the day routing the Central Stags with his third List A five-wicket bag as the Auckland Aces made it two from two to go clear at the top of The Ford Trophy table with a second consecutive bonus point.
Ferguson’s 5-38 included two maidens — a double strike in the 30th over pulling the rug from under the Stags who were bowled out 100 runs short chasing 272, with 10 overs to spare.
Consolation for Ferguson as the BLACKCAPS battled with England down the line at Bay Oval, the handsome win was also the perfect celebration for captain Craig Cachopa who had opted to bat first in his 50th List A game for his side.
A fast start from BLACKCAPS dynamic duo Colin Munro (22 off 23) and Martin Guptill (28 off 43) had spectators buckling in for a big total at a sun-soaked Eden Park Outer Oval, but after the pair fell caught — to Seth Rance and Ajaz Patel respectively, the visiting Stags pulled it back with the ball through the middle overs and ultimately dismissed the Aces for 270 on the last ball of the innings.
Spinner Patel was impressive, picking up Guptill with just his fourth ball of the day and combining with Blair Tickner and Willem Ludick to stem the early damage that had seen the Aces’ first 50 runs on the board at run-a-ball pace.
Sean Solia (54) and Robbie O’Donnell (69) both paced themselves to half centuries in a crucial 99-run stand for the fifth wicket, but the Stags would have been relieved to hold the hosts to 271 with Rance picking up 3-47 and fellow paceman Willem Ludick 3-66.
They struggled to get going with the bat, however, against an Aces attack that saw former Canterbury kingpin Kyle Jamieson (2-29) strike an immediate blow with a wicket maiden first over on Aces debut.
Pulling to square leg only to pick out Ben Lister, George Worker departing scoreless after his 135 in the previous round was just the start the Aces had wanted.
While Dane Cleaver and Josh Clarkson got promising starts, captain Tom Bruce was left treading water with his second half century in two matches this season as the rest of the order fell away around him, Ferguson putting the finishing touch on the victory with his fifth wicket.
Both teams now head to Canterbury for three centralised rounds before the format switches to Dream 11 Super Smash for the holiday season around New Zealand.