Robbie O'Donnell's ton got his side back in the contest | PHOTOSPORT

O'Donnell century in nailbiting knockout

ROUND 9 of 10



14 February 2024

Cello Basin Reserve, Wellington

Points: Wellington Firebirds 0, Auckland Aces 4


  • Ben Lister: 50 List A matches
  • Nick Greenwood : career best List A score for Wellington Firebirds
  • Jesse Tashkoff : maiden List A half century
  • Robbie O'Donnell : second List A century and career-best score (115)

On a sunny and windy day at the Cello Basin Reserve, the Wellington Firebirds headed into a last-ditch battle to save their Ford Trophy skins.

Suddenly at the bottom of a tight table, a loss would be curtains for the Firebirds who had at times played better than their situation suggested.

They had been unlucky to have suffered a washout against the Stags, in a match in which Logan van Beek had blasted his maiden century at this same ground: but for the uncooperative weather, it would have made a great full contest.

But such is cricket, and now, in the penultimate round, home captain Nick Kelly won the toss and batted against the Auckland Aces who were meanwhile seeking a quick recovery from their loss to the Stags in Napier.

Kelly and Nick Greenwood made a duly cautious start against Ben Lister and Danru Ferns but had been picking up the pace nicely before Jock McKenzie skittled Kelly's sticks at 43/1, after his knock of 23.

Greenwood kept going, and would reach his best one-day score for Firebirds. He's had partnerships of 36, 26 and 47 respectively with Troy Johnson, Muhammad Abbas and Callum McLachlan, reaching his half century off 56 balls with four boundaries and two sixes in the mix.

But no one kicked on, and Greenwood was a big loss when that man McKenzie again found a big top edge and had him caught on 70.

However, youngster Jesse Tashkoff played an important hand for his team.

Coming in at 152/4 in the 32nd over, he quickly lost a partner as Ferns had accounted for McLachlan, but got himself established and went on to the second half ton of the innings - a maiden for Tashkoff, off just 42 balls as he looked to the rope.

He almost saw it out, reaching 77 off 55 rocks before big Ben Lister stopped his fun in the 49th over.

He'd done enough to ensure the Firebirds woud post a defendable 285/8, with the onus now all back on the Aces to keep themselves in the match.

After 23 overs of the chase, they had reached 100/2 but had lost both their gun openers, big-hitting Finn Allen and veteran leftie and former BLACKCAP George Worker departing in quick succession to Ollie Newton, the Firebirds paceman finally back from a knee injury that had sidelined him early in this campaign.

An experienced pair in Mark Chapman and captain Robbie O'Donnell needed to steady the ship together from 27/2, and before long they were doing a great job of it.

Both reached half centuries, Chapman waving his bat for the half ton in the 22nd over. O'Donnell got there a few overs later, but their entertaining 143-run partnership came to a halt when spinner Tashkoff had Chapman caught in the deep on 90.

The Firebirds were still in with a good shout, but they needed a flurry of wickets or to keep the pressure on with tight bowling in the last 15 overs.

The death overs would indeed provide more entertainment, from both sides - O'Donnell pumping Tashkoff for three consecutive sixes in the 47th over to suddenly loosen the equation.

The over had produced 19 runs, and he helped take another dozen off the 48th.

The Firebirds struck back in the 49th with two wickets: O'Donnell run out for 115 off 110 balls, before Smith bowled Ryan Harrison for a suck two balls later.

It came down to nine off the last over, bowled by Ben Sears, with the Wellington faithful on the edge of their seats up in the Vance Stand. Nailbiter!

Sears restricted the first two balls to singles, but four byes off the next delivery was a brutal blow. Jock McKenzie found another bye, and now the Aces needed just one to tie, or two for the win, off the last two rocks.

Cam Fletcher took care of the first part, with a single, as the Firebirds conferred ahead of the decisive last ball, McKenzie on strike. He was up to the task, slapping the last ball for a boundary for a nerve-jangling Aces win.

The Firebirds were knocked out, while the Aces remained alive.






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