Day four: Auckland Aces 351 and 174-6 (Michael Bates 4-31, Tim McIntosh 57, Bruce Martin 55) drew with Devon Hotel Central Stags 467 & 232.
All three results were possible heading into the final day with the hosts holding a lead of 281 runs with three wickets in hand. Michael Bates picked up two wickets on the final morning to finish with excellent figures of 4/31 from 22 overs as the Stags were dismissed for 232 leaving Auckland a target of 339 for victory.
The chase didn’t start well with openers Jeet Raval and Martin Guptill dismissed in the early stages and when Craig Cachopa, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme and Gareth Hopkins all fell cheaply soon after the goal became survival rather than victory.
At this stage Bruce Martin joined Tim McIntosh at the crease and the pair proceeded to bat out the day facing 34 overs in an unbroken 101 run partnership in which both players reached their half centuries.
The result means the Aces are still yet to record a victory in the longer format this season and currently sit bottom of the table. However they are only 7 points behind the fourth placed Northern Knights whom they will face in round five of the Plunket Shield starting on Friday at Eden Park.
Day four report courtesy Auckland Cricket.
Day three: Auckland Aces 351 (Martin Guptill 185, Colin Munro 51, Ben Wheeler 3-56, Ajaz Patel 3-42) trail Devon Hotel Central Stags 467 & 165-7 (Peter Trego 45, Bruce Martin 4-56) by 281 runs.
Thanks to Bruce Martin's four wickets and Martin Guptill's 185, we could be in for a last day chase in Napier. The Devon Hotel Central Stags still lead the Auckland Aces by 281 but with only three second-innings wickets remaining to leave the game finely poised for day four.
Martin Guptill was able to add a further 50 runs to his overnight score - support came from Michael Bates, who faced 72 balls for his 7 runs and even Dean Bartlett who took 35 balls for his 2 runs, helping the Aces reach 351, 116 behind the hosts.
After Michael Bates had removed Jamie How and Carl Cachopa cheaply, Bruce Martin began going through the Stags' middle order, including first-innings centurion Peter Trego. The Stags were never really able to get a partnership together, but sit 281 ahead with three second innings wickets remaining. The Aces will be keen to knock them off early and get into the chase - with Guptill in hot form, the last day could be intriguing indeed.
Day two: Devon Hotel Central Stags 467 all out (Ben Wheeler 68, Colin de Grandhomme 2-42) lead Auckland Aces 273-7 (Martin Guptill 135*, Ajaz Patel 2-32) by 194 runs.
Martin Guptill stands on 135 not out overnight and leads the Auckland Aces' resistance to a strong showing from the Devon Hotel Central Stags attack in Napier. After the Stags added 85 to their overnight score, Doug Bracewell and Ben Wheeler went through the visitors' upper order to leave the home side in a strong position at the end of day two.
Wheeler got in on the action early with bat in hand, striking a breezy 68 from 66 balls to help take the Stags to a solid 467 all out, as Michael Bates, Dean Bartlett and Bruce Martin mopped up the tail. After Doug Bracewell got the in-form Jeet Raval lbw for 12, Wheeler inflicted further damage, grabbing Tim McIntosh, in his first Aces appearance in some time, for a duck, then Craig Cachopa cheaply for 10.
Guptill and Colin Munro started digging the Aces out with an 89 run partnership before Ajaz Patel bowled the latter. de Grandhomme was bowled by Adam Milne for a duck, before Gareth Hopkins then Bruce Martin stuck with Guptill for short periods before losing their wickets late in the day.
Guptill will start again on Saturday, and try and get the Aces closer to the Stags big first innings and back into the match.
Peter Trego's highest first class score of 141 set the tone for a fruitful day with the bat by the Devon Hotel Central Stags in Napier. After wobbles in the middle of the innings, Trego and Kruger van Wyk's mammoth partnership got Central out of a hole and then on top.
After Jamie How and Ben Smith put together a 75 run opening partnership, de Grandhomme took care of form batsman Carl Cachopa for a duck, before Mitchell McClenaghan and Dean Bartlett got Will Young and Karl Noema-Barnett for 7 and 6 respectively. Central had lost 5 wickets for 47 runs and were wobbling before Trego combined with Kruger van Wyk in a 218 run partnership for the sixth wicket to steady the ship and then launch a raid on Auckland.
Bates eventually bowled van Wyk for 83 before Trego was caught by Gareth Hopkins from McClenaghan in the next over for 141 get them back in the match. Bracewell and Milne were able to negotiate their way to stumps safely, but Auckland will be looking to get the last three wickets quickly in the morning.