Auckland Aces beat the Otago Volts by 97 runs
Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
Glenn Phillips strolls off Bert Sutcliffe Oval after a casual 156 off 135 balls. Fine effort in an annoying wind. Double century stand with Martin Guptill & another tough day in the dirt for the Otago Volts #FordTrophy pic.twitter.com/TMyC89SeQB— #NZIII (@MargotButcher) November 27, 2019
The Auckland Aces stayed in touch with leaders Canterbury after another powerhouse batting performance from their star-studded top order - but this time, with a victory to provide the icing on the cake.
Despite the early loss of Colin Munro (centurion in the previous match, a stinging loss to the Firebirds), the Aces reached a mighty 254 for two after captain Craig Cachopa elected to bat first against the Volts at a windy but fine Bert Sutcliffe Oval.
Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips poured on a sublime second-wicket stand of 235 to yet again see partnership records rewritten during this season's centralised rounds at Lincoln.
The previous record second-wicket stand for the Aces against all teams had been 218 - set by Anaru Kitchen, who was now in the field with opponents the Volts, and Gareth Hopkins (now the Knights' T20 coach) against the Wellington Firebirds at Eden Park Outer Oval in 2012/13.
Now Phillips and Guptill had shattered it, and came within a whisker (seven runs) of breaking the all-time Aces partnership record for any wicket.
That the Volts' opening attack had made a good start with the ball might have been long forgotten by the 45th over, when Guptill and Phillips were still punching boundaries around the park.
After playing himself in against Jacob Duffy and Nathan Smith (3-41, including the only maiden of the innings; above), Phillips had eventually been the faster out of the blocks and the first to post his half century.
Guptill rapidly caught up with him until, in the last 10 overs, a century was beckoning for each of the immutable pair.
Guptill (above) got there first this time, off 120 balls, then Phillips off 114 just minutes afterwards, each to resounding applause from the Aces viewing room.
Reaching three figures saw the pair go up a notch, until Guptill eventually lost his balance as he leaned in to chase a wide one from Jacob Duffy and his eighth ton for the Aces came to a close on 117, off 130 balls, including seven boundaries and three merciless sixes, having batted from the start into the 45th over of the innings.
Innovative Phillips wasn't done, and surged on to 150 off just 132 balls (15 x 4, 3 x 6). He became the third wicket at a hefty 293 for three - bowled after again attempting a cheeky lap/sweep/pull hybrid shot against a hard-working Smith to end his career best effort on 156.
Name this shot 👇 pic.twitter.com/lf0uyje5sU— ICC (@ICC) November 27, 2019
In the blustery conditions it was a fine effort from the Aces duo, and a long few hours for the Volts who then suffered a further setback when Jacob Duffy and Matt Bacon rand smack bang into each other as they each raced to pouch a high catch from Robbie O'Donnell on the boundary - neither man having heard the other call in the wind.
Bacon came off second best and remarkably held on to the catch despite going down in a painful heap with an injured ankle.
The Volts picked up a few quick wickets at the death, but the damage had been done and they were left contemplating a big chase of 311.
In reply the Volts had a horror start, losing Hamish Rutherford third ball to a fellow leftie in Ben Lister. Neil Broom offered hope, however, as he worked on an aggressive half century of his own.
Broom (above) dominated a 64-run stand with Nick Kelly for the second wicket, then formed a promising 54-stand with Mitch Renwick until who else but Guptill produced a sharp side-on throw to run out a lunging Renwick after a positive 31.
Mark Chapman (above) then shook off a nasty blow on the wrist in the field to claim Broom's big wicket in his first over with the ball.
Nothing much went well for the Volts thereafter, with Dean Foxcroft promptly bowled by Lister.
Later, Lister was in the thick of it yet again with a catch off Sean Solia to remove the attractive Smith (below), who had raced to 43 off 39 balls when disaster struck.
All of the Aces' six-prong attack ended up in the wickets column as the Volts unravelled again, dismissed in just the 41st over.
The Aces now head to Hagley Oval for a fascinating top-of-the-table clash with Canterbury on Friday, in the last round of The Ford Trophy before Dream 11 Super Smash begins in Napier on Friday night 13 December.