26 Jun, Sunday

ACES fight; Firebirds fly behind Johnson


ACES fight; Firebirds fly behind Johnson

Praneel HiraAces

The Auckland ACES enter must-win territory after a four-wicket defeat against the Wellington Firebirds at Eden Park’s Outer Oval.

The highlight of the day was again Will O’Donnell’s knock, scoring his fourth consecutive List A half-century.

Earlier Sean Solia made the most of the powerplay, racing out to 42 off 45 balls. His dismissal bought the O’Donnell brothers together, who put the ACES in a strong position during the middle overs.

The innings fell away when both Will O’Donnell (62*) and Robert O’Donnell (40) picked out fielders on the leg-side. While middle-order duo Ben Horne (32) and Brad Rodden (26) had the ACES primed to push on to a score of 280+, the Firebirds’ bowlers stuck to their task and benefitted from some slick boundary work.

For the Firebirds, Peter Younghusband bagged 3-57 from his ten overs, while Michael Snedden and Iain McPeake took two wickets apiece to hold the ACES to 255/9.

In reply, Andrew Fletcher and Lauchie Johns got the Firebirds off to a flyer. This took all the scoring pressure off the rest of the visitors top order, who were asked to scrap when Ross ter Braak dismissed both openers midway through the powerplay.

Jakob Bhula (40) and Finn Allen (30) did just that as the Firebirds blew past 100 in the 15th over. While ACES spin duo Will Somerville and Louis Delport controlled the middle of the innings and finished with identical figures of 1-39 off their respective ten overs, the visitors edged closer to the total.

At 130/5, the ACES were on top and had two new batsmen at the crease in Troy Johnson and Jamie Gibson. With the game in the balance, the pair soaked up the pressure and put on a partnership of 69. When the breakthrough finally came, Gibson (31) caught at deep square to give Danru Ferns his sole wicket, Johnson kicked up a gear.

The ACES never threw in the towel, but it was Johnson’s day, making the most of out his first List-A fifty, turning into a match-winning knock of 80* off 89 balls. Younghusband added an unbeaten 20 to his earlier efforts with the ball as the Firebirds won by four wickets.

Both sides return to the Outer Oval on Tuesday for Round Six of the Ford Trophy.