OTAGO VOLTS v AUCKLAND ACES
Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
14 November 2018
Result: Otago Volts won by 3 wickets to hold second place on the table
It went down to the last overs, yet again, but for the Auckland Aces the mid-comp troubles continued as another result got away on them, edged in their third loss in a row.
For the Volts, it was elation as they chased down their fourth victory on the bounce to emulate the Firebirds as one of the most dominant teams in this Ford Trophy.
How fortunes had changed for both teams since the opening round.
At Bert Sutcliffe Oval in the first of the centralised matches, Aces captain Craig Cachopa had won the toss and elected to bat in the fine and breezy conditions, promoting keeper Ben Horne to open alongside Sean Solia.
Horne and Solia got moving at a relatively rapid clip before Solia was caught behind, a great take from Volts keeper Mitch Renwick.
Michael Barry joined Horne, which was fun for all the spectators and officials as they share a shirt number. They also appeared to confuse themselves, as Horne was run out on 15.
Cachopa walked in at four as usual and started hitting fairly quickly, registering his half-century in 45 balls.
Barry’s end came as a great ball from Warren Barnes dug out his off stump. Will O’Donnell followed quickly, trapped by the hard-to-read Michael Rippon.
Cachopa kept the runs ticking over with Graeme Beghin, however Beghin couldn’t hold out against a period of sustained pressure from the Volts and he was caught in the outfield.
That opened up the Aces' longer than usual tail, Matt McEwan, Ben Lister and List A debutant Teja Nidamanuru all brought in for this match as the Aucklanders had been forced to reshuffle yet again due to a mix of unavailability and injuries.
McEwan, in his first Ford Trophy outing of the summer, lasted seven balls before departing without scoring, and three balls later Cachopa joined him, trapped by Rippon on 84.
Mitchell McClenaghan and then Danru Ferns both came out swinging. They pushed the Aces' score past the 200-mark, and then close to respectability.
Ferns finished the innings 35* off 32 balls and the Aces saw out their 50 overs to reach 250 for nine.
Young left-armer Lister’s return was particularly welcome when he opened up with McClenaghan. Together they bowled a tight opening spell, but one which the Volts openers, Renwick and Hamish Rutherford, saw off.
Rutherford was caught behind in McEwan’s first over, however, and Renwick went next over, leaving the Volts 47 for two in the 14th. The Aces will have felt they had their noses back in front ahead of drinks, but eventually the new pair of Neil Broom and Brad Wilson began to wear them down and pick up run rate.
The pair put on 77 for the third wicket but even when the Aces managed to winkle them out (Broom run out one shy of a half century), the southerners didn’t panic.
Nathan Smith (above) and Rippon (38*) combined for a brisk 50-run stand at close to a run-a-ball pace, and the match was beginning to slip away from the Aucklanders.
The southerners kept the required run-rate manageable, with enough wickets in hand to hold out until the 43rd over when they blatted past the 200-run mark at five wickets down.
Josh Finnie (above) came in at the fall of Nathan Smith and smashed a lively 23. The Aces turned to their big dog Mitch McClenaghan to try to grab the last few wickets before time ran out.
He came back into the attack with four overs to go and a determination to take wickets or perish trying. But the Aces perished. The over went for 13, leaving the Volts with three overs to get 13 runs.
Despite McClenaghan picking up his second wicket, the Volts' late order was simply up to the task and ultimately put away a crunch win with an over in hand, albeit without a bonus point that would have kept them level-pegging with the Firebirds who had already slaughtered the Stags on Lincoln No.3.
The third-placed Aces will have to pick themselves up quickly – they will face the wounded Central Stags on the same ground on Friday.