The trend of huge scores and close run chases in the Ford Trophy continued at Eden Park No.2 today, with the Aces and Firebirds taking advantage of a quick outfield, flat pitch and cloudless sky.
The Aces innings was dominated by a 218 run partnership for the second wicket between Anaru Kitchen and Gareth Hopkins. Both men scored chanceless centuries at better than a run a ball, with Kitchen making 131 from 107 (including 5 sixes) and Hopkins 142 from 120, striking 12 fours and always taking opportunities for singles. Colin Munro was promoted up the order to blast 38 from 14 balls with some very clean hitting.
Hopkins was eventually dismissed in the 49th over, but the damage had been done as Auckland posted an imposing 383 for 7. Jeetan Patel was the pick of the Wellington bowlers with four wickets.
The Firebirds came out at a million miles an hour, but Ryder was caught early skying the ball, before Ronchi, Elliott and then Franklin joined Papps, who was playing the anchor role. James Franklin made 52 from 49 balls and looked well set before scooping one to Chris Martin, who took a fine catch at short fine leg in what may have been the turning point in the Wellington chase.
Papps, who survived one dropped chance and being caught from a no-ball, eventually went for 129 from 114 balls. Too much was left to Woodcock, who made a fine rear guard effort of 66 from 47 balls, but he ran out of partners. Mills was again accurate and tight, conceding 58 from his 9.3 overs which, considering the conditions, was a fine effort. He also picked up two wickets.
Volts too strong for Stags in New Plymouth
In New Plymouth, the start was delayed because of early heavy dew - the Stags lost early wickets but clawed their way back into the match with good knocks from Carl Cachopa (93) and Kruger van Wyk, who was stumped by his opposite number Derek de Boorder for 90, before being bowled out in the final over for 283. The Volts' bowlers kept it very tight in great conditions with Ian Butler particularly miserly, conceding just 43 from his ten overs, and picking up one wicket.
The Volts would have been comfortable chasing a score considered sub-par, but put pressure on themselves with a few batsmen getting starts but getting out in the 20s and 30s. The anchor innings came from Neil Broom (76 from 95), and Nathan McCullum (54 not out), who saw the Volts home. Ben Wheeler was forced to stop bowling after 7.1 overs for bowling his second full toss above waist high, with Carl Cachopa taking over for him. The Volts got there with one over to spare, taking the win by 4 wickets.
Big Nichol ton sees Wizards to solid win
In Mount Maunganui, Brad Cachopa got the Wizards off to a solid start with his 58 but the innings was dominated by Rob Nicol's 171 not out from 116 balls. The Knights bowlers contained the Wizards batsmen effectively in perfect conditions but were unable to convert pressure into wickets. That handed the Wizards the luxury of wickets in hand, allowing them to up the scoring rate and chance their arm successfully in their Power Play overs to score 362/6, 50-60 runs more than the Knights would have felt comfortable chasing.
Wizards seamers Andrew Ellis (2/44) and Ryan McCone (3/64) were among the wickets, while Hamish Bennett (1/24 from 6 overs) and Logan van Beek (1/42 from 7 overs) were extremely economical, piling on the pressure. The Knights batsmen paid the penalty for losing early wickets and were bowled out well short of their goal in the 40th over for 254, with Jono Hickey top scoring on 46.