ACES cling on at Colin Maiden


ACES cling on at Colin Maiden

Praneel HiraAces

The ACES spinners maintained their control from Day Two. It didn’t take long for Louis Delport and Glenn Phillips to return to the attack and settle in on a slowing Colin Maiden Park wicket.

Resuming at 287/5, Logan van Beek was the first Firebird to go when his outside edge was nonchalantly held in wicketkeeper Ben Horne’s right hand. It was just the start the ACES would have wanted and Phillips followed it with the leg-before decision of Jamie Gibson (46).

While the Firebirds showed more intent than they had through the first 110 overs, Delport and Phillips continued to pile up the overs. Lauchie Johns, Iain McPeake, Ben Sears and Michael Snedden all played to the Firebirds’ strategy of keeping the ACES in the sun.

Both Delport (4-87) and Phillips hunted a fifth wicket as the Firebirds final pair played stubbornly for 17.3 overs before Jeet Raval was introduced into the attack. Snedden, after 52 balls, eventually edged the leg-spinner through to Phillips at first slip to end the Firebirds first innings at 360.

Raval’s joy didn’t last long as van Beek found a bit of extra bounce in his first over. Phillips, who had earlier collected career-best figures of 4-70, was then adjudged to have gloved a short van Beek delivery down the leg-side and the ACES were reeling at 4/2.

Finn Allen, called up to the ACES four-day side for the first time this summer, showed excellent patience outside the off-stump. Sound judgement and fluent strokeplay took the 20-year old to his third First-Class fifty and a career-best score of 66.

Post-tea, the ACES were unable to build any significant partnerships and the wickets started to tumble. Through the evening session, van Beek (3-14) and Michael Bracewell (3-39) took the Firebirds a step closer to lifting the Plunket Shield.

In the last scheduled over of the day, Ben Sears found Sean Solia’s outside edge. The umpires then gave the Wellington bowlers an extra half hour to take the final two wickets.

In the end, Louis Delport (35*), who finished the day hitting two fours and a six from the final three deliveries, and Ben Lister saw the ACES through to stumps.

The ACES will return for Day Four still trailing by 30 runs with two wickets in hand.