Toecrusher trouble for Guptill

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Wellington Firebirds beat Auckland Aces by five wickets

Cello Basin Reserve, Wellington

3 January 2022


The sight of a limping Martin Guptill was one no one wanted to see after a toecrusher from Wellington Firebirds allrounder Nathan Smith saw the BLACKCAPS star retire on 32*.

After the New Year's Day heartbreak of missing out in a high-scoring, last-over thriller, the Firebirds had got another crack at the Aces in the capital - Aces captain Robbie O'Donnell winning the toss this time and electing to bat on the belter of a deck at the Basin.

The Aucklanders were looking to maintain their perfect record in this season's national men's one-day championship, after having handed the Firebirds their first loss of The Ford Trophy summer.

But it was a very different start and complexion to the match after the early loss of both George Worker and Mark Chapman, the two centurions in the record stand last time around.

Guptill had meanwhile been thundering merrily through the first 10 overs, and his loss in the next over was a pivotal moment - Guptill left with a suspected calf strain after being jammed up by the yorker, hit on the toe and then sprawling awkwardly on the deck.

Brisk Smith had already got one through Chapman on 12 at 50/2 and that became 100/3 when O'Donnell departed after a start of 20.

Logan van Beek (3-29) was having a field day, now, quickly rattling through the captain, Glen Phillips and Ben Horne to rip the stuffing out of the Aces' middle order and leaving them with a rebuild to do from 103/5, which was of course effectively six down with Guptill's painful injury.

It was Sean Solia (39) and Will Somerville to the rescue for the Aces, posting a 74-run stand for the seventh wicket with Somerville kicking on for 59 off 77 balls - the best of his one-day career.

While Michael Bracewell (2-46) and Ollie Newton (3-43) zeroed in on the late wickets, the Aucklanders ultimately scrabbled through to 207/9 in 48.3 overs.

Lockie Ferguson had the perfect answer to those exploits by trapping Finn Allen first ball of the chase.

But Luke Georgeson and Jakob Bhula steadied to the tune of a 69-run stand for the second wicket, before Georgeson went on to a run-a-ball half century in hs 40-run partnership with Troy Johnson.

The spin twins Somerville and Louis Delport had come on in the 11th over, Somerville getting Bhula before the pair just kept going until Delport knocked out both Georgeson and Johnson in the 22nd to have the Firebirds suddenly 110/4.

Wickets would be key in that tight equation, 98 runs needed by the hosts at 3.50.

But Nathan Smith (47 not out) got under the Aces' skin again with the bat, contributing to calm stands with both Bracewell (30) and Jamie Gibson (22*) as the Firebirds flew home for a comfortable five-wicket win with just over seven overs to spare.

With Thanks To

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