The Otago Volts stayed in the hunt for the Plunket Shield with a convincing ten wicket win over the Auckland Aces on day four at University Oval, Dunedin.
Having resumed the day 202 for four and still 102 runs away from overtaking the Volts first innings lead, the Aces needed something special from Colin de Grandhomme and Gareth Hopkins. Both fought hard, but in the end their side could only wrestle their way to 351, setting the Volts four to win.
Aaron Redmond hit a boundary off the first ball to secure the ten wicket thrashing.
Earlier, Hopkins (74) and de Grandhomme (33) had held off the Volts bowling attack for a while, but it didn’t last as Sam Wells bowled the latter in the 82nd over.
Hopkins kept chipping away, while cameos from Bruce Martin (20) and Michael Bates (46) kept the game alive for longer than some may have expected.
In the end though the result was inevitable, with Sam Wells producing the good for the Volts with figures of four 74 from 34 overs. James McMillan and Neil Wagner also chimed in with two wickets apiece.
The Volts now sit nine points behind the leaders Central Stags heading into the final round. They face the Wellington Firebirds at the Hawkins Basin Reserve starting Wednesday.
Beard shows heroics
The second day of play between the Otago Volts and the Auckland Aces was largely dominated by the stellar batting performance of night-watchmen Nick Beard, improving on his overnight total to score an impressive 188 runs.
Beard’s contribution was the main highlight in an exciting display of batting from the home side, with large contributions from Neil Broom (103), Aaron Redmond (72) and Derek de Border (60*) helping the Volts through to a total of 569 for eight declared.
Bhupinder Singh was the pick of the Aces bowling attack, taking three wickets for 168 runs, bowling an impressive 51 overs. Ferguson and Barry were also dangerous with the ball, taking two wickets a peace.
In reply to the Volts, the visiting side struggled to respond with the bat and finished the days play at 202 for four. Craig Cachopa was looking confident with the bat scoring 81, before pace-bowler Neesham took the crucial wicket. A helpful 94 run partnership between Cachopa and Hopkins (43*) helped the visitors to a more respectable score, before the Otago bowling attack clinched the final wicket of the days play.
The Auckland Aces struggled throughout the day, with the impressive Otago performance continuing with the ball. At 202 for four, the visitors need something special from Hopkins and de Grandhomme in order to post a competitive total.
Day one: Wagner, Otago in charge
The Otago Volts dismissed the Auckland Aces for 221 on day one of the penultimate round of the Plunket Shield on Thursday, with Neil Wagner claiming his 12th First-Class five wicket-bag in the process.
Currently sitting in second, it’s a crucial match for the Volts, who will be desperate to close the gap between themselves and the leading Central Stags. They’ll be encouraged by their performance so far, having maintained control throughout day.
Anaru Kitchen (74) somewhat salvaged the situation for Auckland, having at one stage been in the dire position of 64 for five. Their total though is already beginning to look meagre, with the Volts 118 for two at the close of play.
Aaron Redmond (72) and Darren Broom (35) showed flair in the Volts’ opening stand, smashing 111 before the first wicket fell.
Their efforts set the Volts up to be able to build a substantial first-innings lead tomorrow.
The opportunity comes after the Aces’ top-order capitulated in the opening session, with Colin de Grandhomme’s 16 the highest score to come from the top five.
With a total of below 100 threatening, Kitchen then gave the Aces a lifeline, cracking 74 from 86 deliveries.
Both Dusan Hakaraia (23) and Bruce Martin (31) produced helpful cameos to see their side past 200, but Wagner had the last laugh as he took the final two wickets to finish the innings.
Sam Wells picked up they key wickets of Kitchen and Martin, while three other Volts’ bowlers picked up one apiece.
Night-watchman Nick Beard (6*) and Michael Bracewell (0*) will resume tomorrow103 runs behind the Aces total.