Northern Districts v Auckland Aces at Seddon Park, Hamilton, 15-17 November 2017
RESULT: Auckland Aces won by eight wickets
Points from this round: Auckland Aces 19, Northern Districts 4
Batting bonus points: Northern Districts 0 (completed), Auckland Aces 3 (completed)
Bowling bonus points: Auckland Aces 4 (maximum achieved), Northern Districts 4 (maximum achieved)
- Ben Lister maiden first-class five-wicket bag
- Matt McEwan career best first-class figures of 6-48
Mitchell Santner doubled up with a half century in each innings, making the Aces' attack work hard for his wicket on a crunch "moving day" in Hamilton.
However, just when the prospect of pulling into the lead was in sight, Colin de Grandhomme snared him in the first of two quick wickets for the big man before lunch, Santner caught behind after almost innocuously fending on 53.
Nightwatchman Baker already long gone, it ended a 70-run stand for the fifth wicket, but when de Grandhomme struck again next over, cutting off Anton Devcich early, ND's toes still were not quite on the doorstep of a lead, and the Aces were hauling themselves in for the kill.
It had been just the lift the Aces had needed before lunch, ND 181 for six at the break for a lead of just 14 runs, and much resting on the shoulders of keeper-batsman Tim Seifert (37* at the interval).
When Matt McEwan bowled him shortly after the resumption, ND's backs were pressed further to the wall as he chewed through the remaining BLACKCAPS — Southee, Sodhi and Boult — to bag six for 48 for the innings, setting the Aces a target of just 72 runs.
They would reach it just two down, Martin Guptill taking charge with an unbeaten 52 as the return of ND's stellar troop of BLACKCAPS ultimately failed to ameliorate ND's fortunes in the first half of the first-class season, while the Aces overtook Canterbury to move up to interim third on the table.
In the final round of Plunket Shield cricket before Christmas, the Aces will return home to Eden Park Outer Oval to host Canterbury, while bottom of the table ND heads to Alexandra to face the Otago Volts on Friday next week.
At 213 for five at lunch, Mark Chapman (32*) and Colin de Grandhomme (25*) were making steady progress on an influential sixth-wicket stand for the Aces who now held a 65-run lead over hosts ND.
It was a critical partnership, for Northern Districts had already accounted for two BLACKCAPS in Martin Guptill and Colin Munro in the morning session, both for single figures; not to mention overnight incumbents Michael Guptill-Bunce (62) and Glenn Phillips (30).
Tearaway Scott Kuggeleijn was now sitting on a three-for, while Tim Southee had got the big wicket of Guptill, caught by a grateful ND captain Daniel Flynn in the slips.
De Grandhomme would reach his half century before Southee (3-97) added him to his collection, but a late burst with the bat from Matt McEwan once again saw the Aces tail put on valuable runs this season, McEwan belting 55 off just 42 balls before eventually becoming Kuggeleijn's final victim, closing the Aces' innings on 315.
The wicket rewarded Kuggeleijn with his sixth first-class five-wicket bag, but the Aces had pocketed a first innings lead of 167.
By stumps Northern Districts was still trailing by 86, with only seven wickets remaining after Matt McEwan had swung in to remove big guns BJ Watling and Kane Williamson, while ND captain Flynn had once again made a quick exit at the top. ND will begin Day Three at 81 for three, Mitchell Santner and nightwatchman Jimmy Baker holding the fort.
Despite a batting order bursting with BLACKCAPS, Northern Districts found themselves on the back foot early after being sent in by the resurgent Auckland Aces on a humid Waikato morning.
New left-armer Ben Lister claimed his maiden five-wicket haul on a bowler-friendly deck in just his second Plunket Shield appearance — the wicket of BLACKCAPS captain Kane Williamson the jewel in the strapping young man's crown.
Making a rare appearance for his domestic team, Williamson’s 45 at first drop was classic steady-the-ship material after the hosts had lost captain Daniel Flynn in the opening over, followed by BJ Watling a few overs later (playing as a batsman only at the top of the order as he recovers from a hip injury), both falling to the sizzling young Lister.
The tall Waitakere quick was a picture of accuracy and control, getting the ball to do a little off the surface as ND tried to battle back from 15 for two.
As expected, Williamson looked right at home on Seddon Park regardless, and was on the way to forming an ominous partnership with his BLACKCAPS teammate Mitchell Santner.
However, even with the Aces giving Williamson a chance in the slips, Lister’s second spell reaped further rewards, accounting for both Williamson and Tim Seifert before lunch to reduce the home side to 97 for four at the break.
The discipline continued after the interval, Danru Ferns the first to strike with Anton Devcich caught in the covers, but it wasn’t long before Lister (5-29) was back in the groove, claiming Scott Kuggeleijn for his maiden first-class five-wicket haul as the Aces went in for the kill.
Ferns and Matt McEwan were rewarded for strong supporting roles with a couple of wickets of their own – McEwan’s the valuable Santner after he had scored the only half century of the ND innings.
The Aces wrapped up the ND tail without much trouble, taking maximum bonus points as ND folded for 148 inside 60 overs; then their own opening pair of Jeet Raval and Michael Guptill-Bunce was measured in their response, getting 70 on the board before a wicket fell.
The Aces lost a couple in a testing last hour, but at 121 for three and plenty of batting to come in the shed, the visitors will be happy with their day one toil.
Entry to all Plunket Shield first-class cricket is free.
Additional reporting courtesy of Auckland Cricket Association.