Robert O’Donnell and Sean Solia put together another defining partnership before Lockie Ferguson tore through the Stags to help the ACES defeat the Central Stags by 100 runs at the Eden Park Outer Oval.
Martin Guptill and Colin Munro gave the ACES the perfect start, with both players hitting elegant boundaries to get off the mark. The flying start continued as the pair put the pressure on the Stags’ bowlers.
Seth Rance responded for the visitors when Munro (22) attempted to flick one over the leg-side. When Guptill (28) picked out Blair Tickner at backward point off Ajaz Patel, the Stags were on top. The scoring had slowed and the ACES had two relatively new batsmen at the crease in Glenn Phillips and Craig Cachopa.
Willem Ludick’s spell from the Kingsland Station end gave the impression the pitch was slowing down as the right-arm seamer mixed up both his pace and length. Phillips (26) and Cachopa (26) fought through a period of disciplined bowling before both players fell to Ludick bouncers.
O’Donnell and Solia put on a repeat of their partnership against the Wellington Firebirds on Sunday. They too took their time, before both players went past fifty, batting the ACES through a tricky phase of play. Solia (54) was the first to reach the milestone, from 54 deliveries, before O’Donnell (69) did the same from 52 balls. The pair’s 99-run fifth-wicket partnership put the ACES in position to push past 250.
Ben Horne hit back-to-back boundaries before the Stags hit back in the final over to bowl the ACES out for 271.
Kyle Jamieson took just three balls to pick up his first wicket in ACES’ blue when Ben Lister clung on to George Worker’s firm pull at square-leg.
While Dane Cleaver and Ben Smith put together a partnership, the ACES kept the pressure on the visitors. The accumulation of dot balls eventually told as Solia and Ferguson went back-to-back with the wickets of Dane Cleaver and Ben Smith.
The back-and-forth continued. The dangerous duo of Tom Bruce and Josh Clarkson (33) found regular relief through some aggressive strokeplay. Just when the partnership went past fifty, Clarkson picked out a waiting O’Donnell on the square-leg boundary. It was great reward for Jamieson, who had challenged the Stags throughout his spell.
The ACES rolled on. Ferguson returned to the attack and showed all of his skills. The paceman cleaned up Ludick and Rance in the 30th over as the Stags fell to 125/7. Bruce (56) got able support from Patel, but the asking rate had blown out.
With two wickets to get, Ferguson was called upon for one final spell. Bruce’s leading-edge flew to Will Somerville at mid-on to give Ferguson his fourth. The speedster wouldn’t have to wait long for his fifth; Ray Toole fended his second delivery to O’Donnell at first slip and the Stags were bowled out for 171.
The ACES now travel to Christchurch for three matches next week against the Wellington Firebirds, Otago Volts and Canterbury.