Day four: Canterbury Wizards 328 (Rob Nicol 66*, Todd Astle 44, Colin Munro 3-60) and 332-4 (Dean Brownlie 98, Shanan Stewart 96*, Jeet raval 2-91) beat Auckland Aces 300-7 declared (Anaru Kitchen 72, Martin Guptill 50, Andrew Ellis 4-72) and 296 all out (Craig Cachopa 118) by 64 runs
The Canterbury Wizards have given themselves some breathing space at the top of the Plunket Shield table, having beaten the Auckland Aces by 64 runs in a tense match at Hagley Oval.
The Wizards declared in their second innings at 332 for four, setting the Aces a difficult target of 361 to win. While threatening, the visitors eventually fell short at 296 all out, despite a knock of 118 from Craig Cachopa.
The day started with Rob Nicol (81*) and Shanan Stewart (96*) having some fun, adding on a quick 37 to their overnight score. Their declaration after 65.4 overs left the match in the balance nicely.
The Wizards quickly got on top of the Aces batsmen though, taking three early wickets, including that of Martin Guptill. Cachopa and Colin Munro (59) worked hard to bring their side back into the match, putting on 100 for the fourth wicket.
The dismissal of Munro halted their progress though and when he was quickly followed back to the shed by Colin de Grandhomme (7), the Aces were in a hole at 156 for five.
Cachopa though continued to fight and found support from skipper, Gareth Hopkins (40). Needing a further 140 for victory, Hopkins was dismissed by Todd Astle, effectively ending the Aces chances.
Cachopa brought up his own personal milestone with a century off 151 balls, but unfortunately his extraordinary effort wouldn’t be rewarded with a team victory. The Wizards claimed the victory in the 76th over.
Ryan McCone and Todd Astle were the chief wicket-takers with four scalps apiece, while Hamish Bennett and Andrew Ellis chipped in with one each.
The Wizards now sit a comfortable 15 points ahead of the second placed Otago Volts.
Day three: Canterbury Wizards 328 (Rob Nicol 66*, Todd Astle 44, Colin Munro 3-60) and 295-4 (Dean Brownlie 98, Shanan Stewart 88*, Jeet raval 2-91) lead Auckland Aces 300-7 declared (Anaru Kitchen 72, Martin Guptill 50, Andrew Ellis 4-72) by 323 runs
The top-order has done the job for the Canterbury Wizards, who head in to day four of their Plunket Shield match against the Auckland Aces with a lead of 323 runs.
The Aces gave up a first-innings lead of 28 when they declared at 300 for seven, but were hopeful of running through the Wizards batsmen to set up a reachable target on day four. That now looks unlikely, with the Wizards currently 295 for four.
The start of day three saw the Aces batting line-up continue to make valuable contributions, with three players (Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen and Colin Munro) making half-centuries. Wanting an outright victory, Aces captain Gareth Hopkins then declared after 104.3 overs.
All-rounder Andrew Ellis kept up his fantastic First-Class summer, finishing with figures of four for 72 from 30.2 overs. Whether he has a role to play with the bat in the second innings isn’t certain though, with the Wizards top six putting on a good lead ahead of the final day.
Dean Brownlie was the back-bone behind it, playing wonderfully for 98 from 93 balls, before a tidy piece of work from Gareth Hopkins behind the stumps saw him fall two short of his ton. Boasting three sixes and 15 fours, Brownlie’s knock had been an exciting one, but the pace didn’t slow with his dismissal.
Rob Nicol and Shanan Stewart backed him up with unbeaten half centuries, with the latter racing to 88 off 54 deliveries, including four maximums. Nicol will resume with him on 52 not out on day four.
All eyes will now be on skipper Ellis, who will likely need to decide the right time to declare.
Day two: Canterbury Wizards 328 (Rob Nicol 66*, Todd Astle 44, Dean Brownlie 41, Tom Latham 39, Colin Munro 3-60, Colin de Grandhomme 3-66) lead Auckland Aces 180-3 (Anaru Kitchen 72, Martin Guptill 50) by 148 runs
The Auckland Aces had the better of day two of their Plunket Shield match against the Canterbury Wizards in Christchurch ending the day at a comfortable 180 with seven wickets in hand.
After resuming at 255-7, Canterbury pushed on to be all out at 328 with Rob Nicol’s unbeaten 66 the backbone of the innings. His late partnership with Todd Astle (44) helped the team over the 300 mark. The two Colins - Munro and de Grandhomme - were the best of the visitors' attack with three wickets apiece.
In reply, Auckland made the worse possible start with Jeet Raval falling for five before BLACKCAP Martin Guptill (50) and Anaru Kitchen (72) steadied the ship.
The partnership of 107 was finally broken by Andrew Ellis, who snatched both the wickets of Guptill and Kitchen. Despite their departure, Auckland were charging along nicely at stumps with Carl Cachopa (28*) and BLACKCAP Colin Munro (21*) at the wicket.
Day one: Canterbury Wizards 255-7 (Dean Brownlie 41, Tom Latham 39, Rob Nicol 37, Colin de Grandhomme 3-54).