The Auckland Aces won by four wickets in round three of the Plunket Shield against Canterbury, in a match that went down to the last session of the final day.
The Aces went out on the morning of day four looking for a quick wicket.
All didn’t quite go according to plan though, as Theo van Woerkom reached his 50 and it was nine overs before Jamie Brown got his wicket. Canterbury finished their innings at 282, leaving 80 overs for the Aces to score 257 for the win.
There was a gloriously unhurried air about Auckland’s chase. Rather than trying to get the runs by teatime, batsmen played themselves in, waiting for loose balls and the Canterbury bowlers to tire.
Even as opening partnership Sean Solia and Graeme Beghin didn’t score runs, they blunted the new ball attack. It was to set the tone for the final innings – plenty of time and enough batting to get them home.
After lunch the Aces set about consolidating their position. Glenn Phillips and Robbie O’Donnell started to find the boundary, including a towering six from Phillips which not only made it onto the concourse, it almost landed in the stand for Eden Park number 1.
Phillips was joined by Mark Chapman after O’Donnell fell for 23, and the BLACKCAPS pair showed some class as they scored a 50 partnership.
Phillips was out LBW on 60, and Chapman was joined by Finn Allen. Allen continued with the theme of the day – taking his time to get off the mark while Chapman kept the score ticking over.
As the innings progressed, Chapman faced some fierce bowling. He was struck on the helmet by Kyle Jamieson just before lunch as he approached 50. Nevertheless, he batted on, bringing up his half-century after tea with a four which took the Aces to under 100 needed.
Allen played a great supporting role, finding the boundary often enough to keep the pressure on. As Canterbury realised the only way to avoid a loss was to take wickets, Allen played more expansively, including bringing up his 50 with a straight drive for six. That shot also marked the 100-run partnership.
Chapman brought out the physio again after he took a heavy blow to the arm on 65. The Aces were just four runs from victory when he was bowled for 89, leaving Allen to hit the winning runs.
The Aces host Northern Districts next week.
Image credit: Photosport.co.nz