OTAGO VOLTS drew with AUCKLAND ACES
Molyneux Park, Alexandra
13-16 March, 2023
First innings points:
Auckland Aces 3 batting, 4 bowling
Otago Volts 2 bowling, 2 batting
Ben Horne: third first-class century
Simon Keene: career best score
Dale Phillips: fourth first-class century
Ben Horne: maiden first-class wicket
If it wasn't one Phillips brother raising his bat for a century, it was the other as cricket returned to Alexandra and the Auckland Aces and Otago Volts duelled in a bottom of the table clash, in what was for the Volts their penultimate match of the summer.
The Aces had entered the season as the defending champion but hopes of a repeat had been all but dashed by just one outright from five rounds, and now captain Robbie O'Donnell won the toss and batted, hoping to at least restore some more dignity at the back end of the season.
After a half hour ground delay on the first morning, the Aces lost just one wicket in the first session, going to lunch at 50/1. The next session would deliver four wickets for the Volts, however, with the Aces in a spot at 115/5 by tea, with Travis Muller picking up two and keeper Max Chu busy behind the stumps with three catches, including a superb diving, one-handed catch off Muller to dismiss opener Sean Solia.
Ben Horne and Simon Keene (above), in his first appearance this side of Christmas, would see out the last session and day with important knocks for their side - Horne unbeaten on 97* at stumps, after seeing off the new ball.
Keene had meanwhile reached 63 not out in an unbroken 153-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Resuming on 264/5, Keene became an early victim on the second morning for his career best 68, before Horne went on to lift his bat for his third Plunket Shield century, off 181 balls, in 263 minutes with a dozen boundaries and two sixes.
Now with Will Somerville for company, Horne followed up the 158-stand with Keene with 67 for the seventh, Someville chiming in with 27.
But once Michael Rae broke the stand with Somerville's wicket, he quickly mopped up a couple more - including the dismissal of Horne on 137 off 202 balls.
The Aces declare nine down at 351/9, putting the Volts in for nine overs before lunch.
The hosts negotiated that without loss, but lost Hamish Rutherford soon after the break, and would be in the hands of Dean Foxcroft and Thorn Parkes (below) until tea.
The pair took the score to 101/1, Foxcroft (51) reaching his half century before the cuppa time and Parkes (53), after it.
By stumps, the Phillips brothers had replaced them both, taking the Volts in at 181/3 with Glenn Phillips (42*), fresh off his century in the last game, nearing another half ton.
Phillips Brothers Inc. continued the assault, putting together a centurt stand for the fourth wicket.
Glenn would go on to 67 before he was caught behind off Adi Ashok, a third victim in the innings for the young leggie.
Dale would carry on past lunch, and reach his fourth Plunket Shield century - a patient knock of 129.
By the time he fell in the last session, Max Chu had joined him and already had a start. Chu went on to fifth score of 50 or better in the Volts innings, the Volts having eased into a first innings lead.
The Volts ended the penultimate day of the penultimate round nine down for an interim first innings lead of 103, after Ben Horne swapped the wicketkeeping duties for a turn as a bowler for the last over of the day, and picked up his maiden first-class wicket off the last ball in Jacob Duffy.
A frustrating ground delay saw both team wait until almost 3pm on the final day to resume the last day, with the Otago Volts promptly declaring their first innings at 454/9 to set up the possibilty of a result.
The Aces had a 103-run deficit to knock off, and began their second innings. By tea they were 48/1, with first drop Mark Chapman (a quick unbeaten 61*) and Sean Solia (46*) carrying on after the break before time ran out and the captains shook hands.
With a rescheduled fixture in hand, the Aces would remain alive by the end of the concurrent seventh round matches, while the Volts would now be playing the last round for pride.