The Auckland Aces have fallen to their third loss in a row, in a close-fought match against the Otago Volts at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval.
The Aces won the toss and elected to bat, promoting Ben Horne to open alongside Sean Solia.
Horne and Solia got moving at a relatively rapid clip, before Solia was caught behind in a great take from Otago wicketkeeper Mitch Renwick.
Michael Barry joined Horne and confused everyone as they share a shirt number. They also appeared to confuse themselves as Horne was run out on 15.
Captain Craig Cachopa walked out at four, and started hitting fairly quickly, moving to pick up his half-century inside 45 balls.
Barry’s end came as a great ball from Warren Barnes dug out his off-stump. Will O’Donnell followed quickly, out LBW to Michael Rippon.
Fortunately for the Aces, these wickets didn’t put a crimp in Cachopa’s scoring. Graeme Beghin joined him, content to change the strike.
However, as the middle overs waned, Beghin couldn’t hold out against the period of sustained pressure. He was caught in the outfield, and that opened up Auckland’s unfortunately long tail.
Matt McEwan, in his first Ford Trophy outing, lasted seven balls before going without scoring, and three balls later Cachopa joined him, out LBW to Rippon for 84.
First Mitchell McClenaghan then Danru Ferns came out swinging. They pushed the Aces score first past the 200-run mark and then close to respectability.
Ferns finished the innings at 35 off 32 balls, and the Aces saw out the 50 overs, reaching 250/9.
Ben Lister’s return was particularly welcome when he opened up with McClenaghan. Together they bowled a tight opening spell, which the Otago openers saw off handily.
From seeing off the two quicks, Hamish Rutherford was caught behind in McEwan’s first over. Fellow opener Renwick went in the next over, LBW to Ferns.
The Aces would have felt they had their noses back in front ahead of drinks.
However, after a sustained period of getting back into the swing of things, Neil Broom and Brad Wilson began to pick up runs.
The loss of Broom and Wilson going into the 30th over threw the balance back in favour of the Aces, but Otago didn’t panic.
Nathan Smith and Rippon combined for a 50-run stand at close to a run-a-ball.
If the Aces didn’t get wickets, they were going to watch the game slip away from them.
The southerners kept the required run-rate manageable and enough wickets in hand to hold out until the 43rd over, when they went past the 200 run mark at five wickets down.
Josh Finnie came in at the fall of Nathan Smith and hit eight runs – the Volts weren’t going to let this get to the final over and give the Aces the chance to snatch the win.
McClenaghan came back into the attack with four overs to go and the determination to take wickets or perish trying. Unfortunately, the Aces perished. The over went for 13, leaving the Volts with three overs to get 13 runs.
In the end, despite McClenaghan picking up his second wicket, it wasn’t quite enough. The Volts ended up victors by three wickets with an over to go.
The Aces will have to pick themselves up quickly – they face the Central Stags on Friday.
Image Credit: Photosport