Another impressive bowling show by the Aces against Canterbury was unfortunately not matched by a run chase that never really got out of second gear at Hagley Oval.
Ten overs after sending Canterbury in to bat, the Aces might have been rueing the decision to bowl first. Henry Nicholls and Chad Bowe were scoring freely, and the Aces opening bowlers hadn’t been able to get through.
Jamie Brown was the first to make a dent in the Cantabrians’ armour, claiming a wicket off his first ball when Chad Bowe chopped on. From there he bowled a tight spell, pinning Canterbury back and getting the wicket of Stephen Murdoch for 22. He finished up nine overs having given away just 25 runs.
Nicholls was joined by captain Cole McConchie, and for sixteen overs it was all one-way traffic. McConchie especially played fast, his strike rate always at or near a run-a-ball.
The Aces were obviously feeling the pressure. Much like the previous match against Wellington, there was some desperation in the quest for a wicket. Mitchell McClenaghan was getting wayward in his bowling, and once Nicholls and McConchie had both gone past their 50s, they both picked up the scoring rate.
In the fortieth over, just three runs short of a century partnership, Sean Solia came on for his second spell and Nicholls had a brain explosion – he flailed at Solia’s first ball, skied it, and Danru Ferns took the catch – Nicholls out for 89.
And again, that triggered the collapse. Michael Barry, the Aces somewhat unlikely secret weapon, came on at the other end and picked up Andrew Ellis, caught behind for two. Next over, Cam Fletcher was out. The over after, Barry got his second. Next over, and Solia picked up his third.
Cole McConchie, who must have watched this happen in disbelief, decided to show there was nothing to it. He then mistimed a huge heave on the onside to Barry, and his middle stump went flying.
Canterbury lost seven wickets in seven overs ending their innings with three balls to go at 243.
Solia achieved his best bowling figures of 4-38, and Barry took 3-25.
When it came to the chase, Solia and Finn Allen proceeded through the first 18 overs calmly and patiently. The pair biding their time to have a go at what seemed like a relatively small total.
Solia was dismissed on 39 off 66, somehow run out from first slip after an LBW shout.
Barry came in at three and was restricted handily by the Canterbury bowlers. He was dismissed by McConchie for six, and in the same over Allen was undone by a great ball for 37.
McConchie struck again four overs later, Craig Cachopa trying to fetch a ball from the offside and hitting it straight to Nicholls.
Ben Horne and Robbie O’Donnell, at the crease with the Aces on 122 for 5, desperately needed to do some rebuilding. Together they blunted much of the Canterbury attack, but the run-rate suffered. O’Donnell played himself in, but only hit two boundaries in his innings.
Still, with both batsmen set and ten overs to go, there was easily room to accelerate. That was stymied when O’Donnell fell on 48.
It wasn’t the dramatic collapse of the Canterbury innings, but as their bowlers restricted the shots that Horne was able to play, wickets fell, and something had to give.
Horne brought up his 50 in ones and twos. He had played some great strokes early in his innings, but desperation forced him into some less orthodox shots. In the end he was caught on the boundary for 56.
Coming into the final over, with 16 runs needed from it, Ferns gave the possibility of another victory snatched form the fire. He hit two boundaries from the first two balls but was caught behind on the third.
At the end of fifty overs the Aces were still six runs short on 237/9.
Canterbury will make the trip north to play the Aces again at Eden Park this Sunday.
Image Credit: Photosport