Auckland pounce to close gap

Wellington’s grasp on the Provincial A title weakened a little in the fourth round, as they suffered a six wicket loss to second placed Auckland in Lincoln.

Having posted 268 all out after 46.2 overs, Wellington were unable to contain Auckland’s batsmen, as 19 year-old Cameron Fletcher led his side to victory in the 46th over.

Auckland’s chase was a composed one, with captain Tim McIntosh and Fletcher doing the majority of the work in a second wicket stand worth 169.

McIntosh was as solid as ever on his way to 71, while Fletcher fell just five short of three figures with 95 from 98 deliveries.

While he failed to reach the milestone, he had put his side in a powerful position and Jono Sole took full advantage by smashing 47 from 25 to all but ensure the victory.

Scott Kuggeleijn worked hard for his three wickets, but the Wellington bowling attack couldn’t penetrate regularly enough.

Earlier, they had been in all sorts of bother at the start of their innings with both openers dismissed for a duck.

The recovery was swift though, as Stephen Murdoch and Henry Walsh put on 113 for the third wicket. Both brought up half centuries, before Murdoch fell in the 19th over for 57.
 
Walsh though continued to plunder away, hitting two sixes and 12 fours in his 88 from 86 deliveries. Unfortunately he was sent packing in the 35th over by Rajiv Sharma, who was once again a force with the ball.

Tom Blundell scored 40 and two further cameos down the order were also handy as Wellington finished with a respectable 268.

It could have been oh so much more had it not been for the heroics of Sharma though, who collected his second straight five wicket bag with figures of five for 51 from ten overs.

Auckland’s victory keeps the defending champs’ hopes alive, with their Twenty20 encounter against Wellington on the penultimate day a potentially pivotal match.

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