CANTERBURY v AUCKLAND ACES
31 October 2018
RESULT: Canterbury won by six runs
It went down to the last over, defending champions the Auckland Aces once again engaged in a nailbiter as they looked to continue their winning run through the 2018/19 Ford Trophy, albeit bereft of bonus points.
This time, it was a bridge too far. Their run chase against Canterbury at Hagley Oval boiled down to 16 runs required from with just two wickets in hand from six deliveries.
Back-to-back boundaries from Danru Ferns off the first two balls of Henry Shipley's final over eased the pressure slightly, but he was caught behind off the next delivery.
With Jamie Brown walking to the crease to join Mitch McClenaghan, on 3*, the Aces were now 236 for nine. A dot ball to Brown left the hosts needing boundaries: eight still required.
But Shipley dotted down again and the Aces suffered their first defeat of the season, Canterbury winning by a sliver of six runs. It had been another impressive bowling show by the Aces but a run chase that hadn't really got out of second gear in their first away match of the the competition.
Ten overs after having sent Canterbury into bat, Craig Cachopa might have been ruing his decision with Henry Nicholls and Chad Bowes scoring freely, and the Aces opening bowlers unable to get through.
Jamie Brown was the first to make a dent in the Cantabrians’ armour, claiming a wicket off his first ball when Chad Bowes chopped on. From there he bowled a tight spell, pinning Canterbury back and getting the wicket of Stephen Murdoch for 22. He finished up nine overs having given away just 25 runs.
Nicholls was joined by captain Cole McConchie, and for 16 overs it was all one-way traffic. McConchie, in particular, played fast, his strike rate always at or near a run-a-ball.
The Aces were feeling the pressure and, much like the previous match against the Wellington Firebirds, there was some desperation in the quest for a wicket, and once Nicholls and McConchie had both gone past their 50s, they both picked up their scoring rate.
In the 40th over, just three runs short of a century partnership, Sean Solia came on for his second spell and Nicholls flailed at Solia’s first ball and skied it to Ferns, out for 89.
That triggered the collapse. Michael Barry came on at the other end and picked up Andrew Ellis, caught behind for two. Next over, Cam Fletcher was out. The over after, Barry got his second. Next over, and Solia picked up his third.
McConchie then mistimed a huge heave on the onside to Barry, and his middle stump went flying: Canterbury lost seven wickets in seven overs, ending their innings with three balls to go at 243.
Solia meanwhile had achieved his best bowling figures of 4-38, and Barry took 3-25.
When it came to the chase, Solia and youngster Finn Allen proceeded through the first 18 overs calmly and patiently. The pair bided their time to have a go at what seemed like a gettable total.
Solia was dismissed on 39 off 66, run out from first slip after an LBW shout.
Barry came in at three and was restricted handily by the Canterbury bowlers. He was dismissed by McConchie for six, and in the same over Allen was undone by a great ball for 37.
McConchie struck again four overs later, Cachopa trying to fetch a ball from the offside and hitting it straight to Nicholls.
Ben Horne and Robbie O’Donnell, at the crease with the Aces on 122 for 5, desperately needed to do some rebuilding. Together they blunted much of the Canterbury attack, but the run rate suffered. O’Donnell played himself in, but only hit two boundaries in his innings.
Still, with both batsmen set and 10 overs to go, there was still room to accelerate. That was stymied when O’Donnell fell on 48.
It wasn’t the dramatic collapse of the Canterbury innings but, as the bowlers restricted the shots that Horne was able to play, wickets fell, and something had to give.
Horne brought up his 50 in ones and twos. He had played some great strokes early in his innings, but desperation forced him into some less orthodox shots. He was caught on the boundary for 56.
Then came the last over, the bitten fingernails and Canterbury's second win on the bounce while the Aces dropped from top slot on the table to third.
Canterbury will make the trip north to play the Aces again at Eden Park Outer Oval this Sunday where admission is free for Round Four.