The Otago Volts certainly had their chances at Eden Park Outer Oval under new captain Jimmy Neesham, but the Aces had other plans in round two on 18 January 2017.
How it happened
• After a smashing performance in round one, the Auckland Aces were again keen to bat first at their main home ground, and got to do just that when Rob Nicol won the toss
• There was early excitement for the Volts, though, when the fourth over provided a wicket maiden for Anaru Kitchen. Glenn Phillips and first drop Sean Solia both took their time powering up. Ultimately it didn’t come off for Phillips, who became Kitchen’s second victim in the eighth over: 24/2, Solia on just 6* when he was joined by his captain.
• When Solia pumped Jack Hunter, on Ford Trophy debut, for six in the next over, all that sluggish stuff was about to change.
• Neesham (replacing an injured Hamish Rutherford at the helm) immediately brought himself on to combat the Solia show and, while he started well, with just one run from his first over, before long the maiden centurion of the opening round was again helping himself to fours off allcomers.
• By drinks, Solia was on 41*, having taken seven fours already to go with that six. Note to bowlers: he really, really likes those straight sixes! But Kitchen, meanwhile, had struck again, removing Nicol to usher in classy young Robbie O’Donnell, back from injury for the first time this summer in white ball cricket.
• O’Donnell quickly tucked into his first boundary and would stick with Solia as the latter cruised past 50 for the second time in just his second match, the Aces reasonably placed at 118/3 at the halfway mark. Solia was on 61* and O’Donnell 24* already as their crisp 50-run stand came up in just 59 balls.
• When Neesham replaced awkward left-armer Bradley Scott with Ryan Duffy, the Aces put saw that as a flag to the foot down — Solia helped himself to a second six and then helped collect 14 off a lengthy 29th over from the captain himself that included two wides and a no ball. It propelled Solia into the 80s, with a good sniff, now, of achieving remarkable back-to-back hundreds from his first two List A games.
• Sadly it wasn’t to be, the crowd audibly sighing when he was caught on 84 — what a big maiden wicket for Jack Hunter. But Solia's 73-ball effort would prove highly valuable to the home side as they searched for ascendancy later in the match.
• Ben Horne became Hunter’s second List A wicket in the 33rd over to have the Aces 165 for five — O’Donnell having punched his way to 42 by the time he was joined by Shawn Hicks. But O’Donnell would miss out on a comeback half-ton, the next to depart just five balls later.
• Kitchen (4-18) was now on for a five-for, but as Hicks and Donovan Grobbelaar knuckled down, he began to run out of overs with which to do it and had to settle for a career-best 4-23.
• Neesham would come back on to pick up Hicks and Tarun Nethula in the same over, but Grobbelaar was enjoying his work against Duffy, slamming him for a six and two fours amid 16 runs in the 45th over. He would power a 55-run stand for the ninth wicket with Lockie Ferguson — a new Aces List A record against the Volts, and then tried the same tactics against Neesham. While another six took him to 44, he was bowled at the end of the over, leaving the Aces with just one wicket in hand at the end of the 47th.
• Neesham had come back with a vengeance at the death, recovering to finish with 4-58 off his 9.4 overs as he wrapped up the Aces with 1.2 overs to spare, stopping the damage at 257, which was about par.
• That set a required run rate of 5.16, anything under a run a ball a bonus at Eden Park Outer Oval. Volts openers Gregor Croudis and Brad Wilson made a solid start, too, against Ferguson and Grobbelaar, and then against the change pair of Hicks and Raja Sandhu, putting on 54 before Croudis became the first wicket in the 10th over.
• Spinners then made a big impact, Wilson denied a 50 by Rob Nicol, who then got a feather behind from Duffy, while influential Nethula found Neesham’s leg stump after he missed a sweep on 28, and got another feather behind from Michael Bracewell trying to attack him on 23.
• At 194 for six in the 37th over, the Volts were just 63 runs away from their target and well within range. Despite Sam Wells giving Nethula a three-fa, Derek de Boorder’s 36 off 32 seemed to have them on course. But then he was horribly run out by a direct throw from Grobbelaar after having raced off from the non-striker’s for a single that was never there.
• Ferguson, the bowler and out of the wickets so far, was delighted, and it fired him up to close in on the last two obstacles. He lured Viljoen into top-edging a short one behind him to the keeper before Bradley Scott’s fall in the 47th over granted Glenn Phillips five catches in the innings behind those stumps as the table-topping Aces made it two from two, with 19 runs to spare.
The Aces now head to the Basin Reserve on Sunday while the Volts go home to Uni Oval to take on Canterbury the same day. Tickets at the gate, both matches starting at 11am.