The Firebirds hit back today after the ACES started their Ford Trophy campaign with a smashing win at the Basin on Saturday.
Saturday 1 January | ACES won by six wickets
George Worker and Mark Chapman led the ACES to an excellent six-wicket victory over Wellington Firebirds at the Basin Reserve.
It was an uphill battle early on with Finn Allen and Luke Georgeson (56) putting the hosts in a position to post a sizeable total. Allen was his destructive self, threatening to take the game away from the ACES with 86 off 55 balls.
Troy Johnson (84) continued his golden run against the ACES, but skipper Robbie O’Donnell found the bowling combinations to drag the hosts back. Danru Ferns came back nicely at the death, picking up three wickets, while Louis Delport delivered a tidy ten-over set, finishing with figures of 2-43.
Chasing 308, the ACES lost Martin Guptill early, only for Worker (132) and Chapman (105) to settle in on a good batting wicket. The left-handed duo went tit-for-tat throughout, amassing 237 runs – a new ACES record for the second wicket.
Worker’s first hundred in ACES blue came off 107 balls, while Chapman’s 6th List-A hundred took 108 deliveries. As often happens after a big partnership, the pair departed together, leaving the middle order to take the side to victory.
There were a few tense moments towards the end, but skipper O’Donnell and Sean Solia were on hand to seal a memorable victory with two balls to spare.
Monday 3 January | Firebirds won by five wickets
It was a very different wicket for the ACES second of two matches with the Firebirds at the Basin Reserve.
Winning the toss and batting first, Robert O’Donnell’s side were challenged from the outset. Logan van Beek found a line and length that troubled the middle order and all-rounders three wickets reduced the ACES to 103/5.
Add an injury to Martin Guptill and the ACES were in danger of being bowled out a long way short of 50 overs. A stubborn stand between Will Somerville and Sean Solia lifted the side to a defendable total.
For Somerville, batting at No.8, his 59 off 77 balls represented a career-best effort. Solia managed 39 from 62 deliveries as the ACES scraped through to 207 all out.
Lockie Ferguson then provided the perfect start with the ball, trapping the dangerous Finn Allen in front from the very first ball.
It would be a tense afternoon at the Basin with the ACES and Firebirds throwing punch and counter punch. Somerville continued his fine day with 2-29 from his ten overs, while Louis Delport struck twice in the 22nd over to give the ACES a sniff.
In the end, Luke Georgeson’s 51 was supported by the cameos of Nathan Smith (47*), Michael Bracewell (30) and Jakob Bhula (28) to send the Firebirds back to the top of the table with a five-wicket win.