The dynamic Mark Chapman celebrated his maiden T20 century today with a tight win that blasted the Auckland Aces back to the head of the Burger King Super Smash table.
After Chapman’s 101, incredibly the next highest Aces score was just Craig Cachopa's 27 as "Chappy" smoked all six of the bombs in the Aucklanders’ innings in his greedy, 58-ball knock — not only some stunningly crisp connection on display from the former Hong Kong rep, but fast and aggressive running between the wickets that ultimately proved the difference in a seven-run defeat of the Canterbury Kings at their Hagley Oval home.
The Aces reached 168 for five thanks to Chapman’s near-solo efforts with the bat, but with the ball it was a different story, a solid team effort, though the ball of the match surely went to young left-armer Ben Lister’s yorker that went straight through BLACKCAP Tom Latham.
Latham had shot his way to 46 at the time and was in a handy position to accelerate the scoring, but the wicket stole the momentum that had just been gathering nicely for the hosts in the brilliant New Year's Day Christchurch sunshine, a recovery going well after the early loss of both hard-hitters Henry Nicholls and Mike Pollard at the top.
Ronnie Hira was involved in both those dismissals and he returned a class 1-24 off his four overs, the Aces looking blessed now with spinning riches between veterans Hira and Tarun Nethula (2-32).
At times the Kings’ chase looked like it might just get up, particularly after having been 69 for two, and then later with Cam Fletcher still there at the death when the Kings needed 24 off the final two overs.
However, a tight final set of six from Sam Curran that also claimed the wicket of Todd Astle for a golden duck put paid to the locals' fighting chase, and brought a sorry end to local legend Astle's 50th T20.
The Aces head off to New Plymouth now to play the Central Stags on 4 Jan if the burst of wet weather permits, while the Kings remain at Hagley to host the Otago Volts the following day.