26 Jun, Sunday

ACES on the board after thrilling finish


ACES on the board after thrilling finish

Praneel HiraAces

The Auckland ACES survived a final over Willem Ludick blitz to register their first win in the Dream11 Super Smash over the Central Stags in New Plymouth.

ACES openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro fought through an uncomfortable opening to lay an excellent platform. Seth Rance and Blair Tickner were on the money early on but the patience shown by the ACES pair eventually paid off.

Though Guptill thrashed his third ball down the ground for four, it wasn’t until the third over, when Munro cleared his hip for the first six of the match, that the ACES got the score moving.

Soon enough, the ACES were past fifty with 15 runs coming from the final over of the powerplay. The pair hit 9 fours and 3 sixes between them, adding 75 for the first wicket. Guptill was the first to go, for 43, when the opener skied Keiran Noema-Barnett’s second delivery.

The ACES lost Munro (31) in the tenth over, leaving Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman to build through the middle overs. It didn’t take long for the pair to pick up where their openers left off.

Chapman twice danced down the wicket and swung Noema-Barnett over the rope as 15 runs came from the 13th over. The left-hander lost Phillips in the 14th, a ball after depositing Ryan Watson deep on to the mid-wicket terrace.

The big finish was left to Corey Anderson, who managed two sixes in his 15 from ten balls, before the Craig Cachopa came to the crease with 22 balls left in the ACES’ inning.

Chapman and Cachopa put on an unbeaten 51 runs for the fifth wicket as the pair peppered the boundary. While the Stags snuck in the odd dot, Chapman used his initiative, both advancing down the wicket a getting low to scoop a four and a six late on. Cachopa wasn’t to be left out, twice clearing the leg-side boundary as 27 runs came from the 18th over.

All that was left was go past 200 and for Chapman (63*) to score his 7th T20 fifty, from 23 balls, as the ACES posted a daunting total of 210/4.

The ACES were tidy throughout the first five overs with Mitchell McClenaghan and Ben Lister bowling excellent lengths, keeping the Stags to 31. George Worker was able to free his arms off Ross ter Braak, taking 18 runs from the sixth over.

When the field restrictions lifted, Sean Solia and Ronnie Hira bowled tight overs to send the require rate higher. The pair had a new batsman in Tom Bruce at the crease and made the most of it as the Stags skipper took time to get into his inning.

George Worker, though, continued to fight on after taking a blow to the gloves, caressing the ball into gaps as well as clubbing 4 sixes on his way to a 29-ball fifty.

McClenaghan and Lister were again superb when asked to come back during the middle overs. The pair ensured the asking rate continued to go up before Hira struck two crucial blows in the 13th over. First, Worker was caught by a sliding Lister at long-off. Three balls later, Hira clipped the top of Noema-Barnett’s off-stump to pick up his 100th Super Smash wicket.

The Stags weren’t out of it, however, with Bruce joined by Josh Clarkson at the crease. Bruce flicked the switch after the Hira’s double-strike and his power would have been in the back of the ACES’ mind. A 32-ball fifty followed.

Bruce and Clarkson took only 23 balls to bring up fifty runs for the fifth wicket before McClenaghan rose to the challenge conceding just nine runs from a brilliant 18th over.

Needing 40 off 12 balls, Clarkson hit ten from Lister’s next three deliveries. The young left-arm paceman held his nerve as Clarkson inside-edged Lister’s full-length delivery back onto the off-stump. When Bruce was run-out the very next ball, many may have felt the game was over.

Nobody told Willem Ludick. Having hit Lister’s final ball for four, Ludick took on Munro’s final five deliveries. The powerful right-hander hit three sixes from the next four balls as an unlikely tie came into focus. Ludick attempted to hit one final six down the ground as Munro pitched up once more. The ball flew out to long-on, bouncing a yard short of the boundary as the ACES held on for an important two-run victory.

The ACES now head home for the first of four successive matches at Eden Park, starting against the Firebirds on Monday 30 December.


Image credit: photosport.nz