A disappointing batting effort at the Outer Oval and a responsible Devon Conway knock means the ACES end 2019 with a seven-wicket loss to the Wellington Firebirds in the Dream11 Super Smash.
Martin Guptill provided the ACES with an explosive start, dominating an opening stand of 42. That was as good as the ACES gave with the Firebirds’ spinners stamping their mark on the match.
Guptill hit 5 fours and a pair of sixes on his way to 42 before Rachin Ravindra snuck one past the advancing opener. Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman took the total through to 76/2 and the ACES were in good shape at the halfway stage. Then, another Firebirds’ spinner struck.
This time it was Malcolm Nofal. The left-arm spinner claimed the wicket of both Phillips and Chapman in the 11th over and the ACES needed a partnership. Michael Bracewell made the move to bring himself on and it proved a masterstroke.
The Firebirds’ skipper nabbed the wickets of middle-order pairing Craig Cachopa and Corey Anderson as the ACES slipped into further trouble. Ollie Newton kept going hard at the ACES, while Will Somerville and Ronnie Hira rallied briefly to push the score to 133/9.
Mitchell McClenaghan fired up and gave the ACES an early breakthrough when Michael Pollard chopped on for a duck in the second over. Though the ACES nabbed Ravindra quickly after a pair of elegant flicks through the on side, Conway was controlling the Firebirds chase.
While Cachopa rotated his bowlers in search of quick wickets, the ACES managed to keep Bracewell quiet. Chapman provided the ACES not only with relief but also the wicket of Bracewell when the left-hander tried to clear Munro at long-on.
By then, Conway had passed fifty and the required run-rate was more than manageable for the Firebirds. It was another fine knock from the Firebirds’ opener, who finished on 78*, hitting 9 fours and a six as the visitors kept their place at the top of the table.
The ACES return to the Outer Oval on Wednesday to take on the Canterbury Kings.