The Auckland Aces completed a great victory on day four of their Plunket Shield match against the Canterbury Wizards, beating them by seven wickets as they chased down 219 in 43.4 overs.
Following on from an explosive start yesterday by Lou Vincent, the Aces continued to show aggression in their pursuit, with Craig Cachopa wasting no time in smashing 57 from 45 deliveries. He fell with his side requiring three for victory, but the ever dependent Tim McIntosh remained.
The experienced opener finished unbeaten on 77, hitting 13 fours and making sure that the Aces would not be denied.
It capped off a sensational comeback, with the home side at one stage looking at a first-innings defecit of over 200. However, they recovered with a fantatsic bowling performance on the third day, dismissing the Wizards for just 120.
The victory puts Auckland on 51 points in second, while Canterbury stay in fifth.
Day three: Aces on verge of amazing victory
Auckland Aces Kyle Mills and Bruce Martin both picked up five wicket bags in the Canterbury Wizards second innings to give their side every chance of winning at Eden Park Outer Oval.
Having given up a 98 run first innings lead, the Aces fought back to dismiss Canterbury for just 120. It set the Aces a target of 219 to win and by stumps they were only 66 runs shy at 153 for two.
Earlier in the day Gareth Hopkins had scored his 15th First-Class century and finished 122 not out as Auckland fought back to post 307 in their first effort with the bat.
Wizard Ryan McCone picked up the key wicket of Mills (70) early in the day to claim his second career five wicket bag.
The visitors were in control with a lead of just under 100, but it quickly went pear-shaped as Mills began a devastating spell with the ball.
The 33 year-old took the first three wickets and had the Wizards in trouble at 29 for three.
Dean Brownlie showed some promise with 39, but was undone by Bruce Martin in the 28th over. Together, Mills and Martin accounted for the entire Wizards team in just 43.2 overs.
It was a sorry scorecard, with only Brownlie making more than 20. It was however sheer brilliance from Mills and Martin, with the former claiming an incredibly rare ten wicket bag for the match. Following on from his first-innings haul of five wickets, Mills finished with match analysis of 10 for 147.
Martin on the other hand will be just as pleased with his performance, as he prepares to join the BLACKCAPS in South Africa for the Test series.
Their good work with the ball was soon backed up by their top-order as Lou Vincent in particular aggressively went about trying to reach the target sharply.
He and Tim McIntosh put on put on 71 for the opening wicket, before Vincent was dismissed on 43 (28 balls). Reece Young made a quick 31, while McIntosh remains unbeaten on 51 from 101 deliveries.
He and Craig Cachopa (18) will resume tomorrow with high hopes of bringing about an early finish.
Day two: Aces holding on
Just as a rout looked on the cards, the Auckland Aces have fought back with an unbeaten 127 run eighth wicket partnership against the Canterbury Wizards at Eden Park Outer Oval, Auckland.
Gareth Hopkins (86*) and Kyle Mills (61) saved the Aces from a huge first-innings deficit and saw their side to 264 for seven at stumps. They still trail the Wizards by 141 runs, who had earlier declared at 405 for nine.
Yesterday’s centurion Gareth Andrew (180*) continued to frustrate the Aces bowling attack at the start of the day and along with Willie Lonsdale (20) took the visitors to past 400.
In reply dangerman Lou Vincent went out for a golden duck to leave the Aces one for one.
It only got marginally better, as the Wizards broke through frequently to have the hosts battling at 58 for five.
Phil Mustard then showed some fight with 55 from 100, but proceeded to fall in the 42nd over.
At 132 for six the Aces were in a lot of trouble, but the experienced pair of Hopkins and Mills came together to somewhat rescue the situation.
Hopkins played admirably to finish the day just four short of his ton, while Mills showed a mix of aggression and patience in his 61 from 107.
Together they successfully made sure the home side would not be required to follow on, but will undoubtedly be hoping to kick on and get as close the Wizards total as possible.
Ryan McCone finished the day with four wickets from his 14 overs for 47 runs, while Andrew backed up his display with the bat with two key wickets as well.
Day one: Canterbury go past 300
English import Gareth Andrew made a crucial century on day one of the Canterbury Wizard’s Plunket Shield match against the Auckland Aces at Eden Park Outer Oval.
The Wizards finished 327 for eight after 97 overs, having recovered from a very shaky start. Kyle Mills was devastating with the ball in hand and took his fourth First-Class five wicket bag.
The visitors lost early wickets to find themselves in a hole at 77 for five. Four of the top six batsmen went for single digits, leaving a lot of work to do to reach a competitive total.
George Worker chipped in with 31, while Dean Brownlie continued his run of good form with a sensible 75 from 191 balls. He found support from Todd Astle who scored an even 50 to take the Wizards past 250.
The real excitement from the day though came from Andrew, with the 28 year-old coming in at number eight and playing an explosive innings.
After 127 balls he brought up his maiden First-Class century, destroying the bowling line-up with some towering shots. He smashed 16 fours and six sixes overall and remained unbeaten at day’s end on 126.
It ruined what had been a brilliant start by the Aces and now puts the Wizards in a position to reach 250 plus. Andrew will resume day two with Willie Lonsdale (3*) at the crease.
Mills found the edge of the bat regularly for the Aces and his five wickets showed what a valuable asset the 33 year-old still is. He’ll look to add his tally when they try finish off the Wizards’ tail tomorrow.