Ben Horne’s first List A hundred wasn’t quite enough for the ACES against Canterbury at a hot and dry Colin Maiden Park.
The ACES bowlers were made to work in tough bowling conditions as Henry Nicholls and Chad Bowes raced out to 64/0 after the first ten overs.
Left-arm spinner Louis Delport helped apply the breaks with the wicket of Bowes. On 31, the opener fell victim to an excellent one-handed catch by Ben Lister running back at mid-off. Skipper Craig Cachopa then introduced Finn Allen to the attack and the off-spinner snuck through a tidy four-over spell.
While Nicholls went past fifty, the pressure exerted by Delport and Allen led to the wicket of Jack Boyle. Delport was again the man to strike for the ACES with Boyle missing an aggressive sweep.
The partnership of the match followed. Stephen Murdoch joined Nicholls and the pair added 149 for the third wicket. During that time, Nicholls brought up a 106-ball century, while Murdoch gave the run-rate a significant boost by hitting 83 off 65 balls.
Just as Canterbury looked to lift the rate further, Danru Ferns struck; Nicholls (120) attempted to lift a leg-stump delivery over the leg-side, only for Allen to settle under a steepling catch. Matt McEwan gave the ACES a further opening when Murdoch flicked a flat catch to Jeet Raval at deep mid-wicket.
Cameos by Andrew Ellis, Cameron Fletcher and Will Williams boosted Canterbury’s total to 332/6 as Delport, McEwan and Ferns all picked up a pair of wickets.
In reply, openers Raval and Will O’Donnell gave the ACES a racy start. Raval flew out of the blocks, hitting five boundaries inside the first six overs. The pair brought up fifty before Will O’Donnell drove aerially to point. Raval and Cachopa kept up with the asking rate for some time before the skipper edged Andrew Hazeldine through to Fletcher.
Raval followed soon after for 60 off 51 balls. Allen started brightly powering Theo van Woerkom over his head for six. The ACES fell into further trouble when Andrew Ellis dismissed Allen and the new batsman, Sean Solia.
The ACES needed a partnership; Robbie O’Donnell and Ben Horne were the batsmen to provide it. The pair sought to rebuild the ACES hopes by running hard and releasing the pressure with the odd boundary.
When Robbie O’Donnell was bowled by van Woerkom on 43, the game swung again in Canterbury’s favour. Horne continued on at better than run-a-ball as the equation read 94 runs from the final 60 balls.
McEwan (37) proved the perfect foil for Horne. The pair established a new seventh-wicket partnership record against Canterbury adding 95 off 68 balls. The ACES all-rounder was unlucky to have been stumped when Fletcher fumbled the ball back onto the stumps. Ferns hit his first ball for four before Horne took 13 from the first five balls of the 47th over.
Ferns then edged the sixth ball through to the keeper and Delport was run out trying to keep Horne on strike. With two overs to go and one wicket in hand, Horne found the point boundary before a single took the wicketkeeper to his first List A hundred.
Eight were required off the last over. Lister started with a single before Horne did the same. Six off four. Dot. Tight single to mid-on. Five off two. Dot. With six needed to win, Horne shuffled to the off-stump and Will Williams didn’t miss his mark as Canterbury held on by four runs. Horne finished with 101 off 73 ball in a knock that included 9 fours and 2 sixes.