Auckland Aces take victory over Northern Districts
The Auckland Aces have picked up their second Plunket Shield win in a row, handing Northern Districts their first four-day loss of the season.
Going out at 200/7 in their second innings, 62 runs in the lead, ND needed something special to give them a total they could actually defend.
The day didn’t start well. Ish Sodhi joined Nick Kelly in the middle, but Kelly was gone inside the first 10 overs. His mishit off Will Somerville was so bad, Kelly started walking before the catch was even taken by Glenn Phillips at point.
Sodhi, however, wasn’t going down without a fight. With Brett Randell at the other end, he hit the Aces bowlers for seven fours and one six. His batting pushed Northern Districts past 250.
Randell lasted 30 balls for his two runs, to shore up the other end. He was out hitting Jamie Brown to Robbie O’Donnell at leg gully, O’Donnell picking up the catch at head-height.
Two overs and 20 runs later, Brown dismissed Sodhi for 47 in the exact same way. ND innings at 262.
Auckland needed 125 runs for victory, and smelled an early finish.
Graeme Beghin and Sean Solia walked out, but Solia couldn’t repeat his first innings score. Beghin was joined by Phillips, and in the last five overs before lunch the pair upped the scoring rate. Together they knocked off 50 runs in 11 overs.
Lunch dragged slightly longer than the allotted time, as the cloud which seemed to be solely over Eden Park began to drizzle.
That soon burned off, and the Auckland batsmen went about their work. They played with intent, though without undue risk. While there was no reason to go about the chase hammer and tongs, there was also no reason to hang about.
Beghin was looking for his maiden First-Class 50. After sitting in the high 40s for two overs, he brought it up with a reverse sweep off Sodhi.
Then it was Phillips’ turn. The runs required were ticking down, so he hit Anton Devcich back over his head for six, and raised his bat.
With two runs left to win, Sodhi produced a maiden to keep the Aces out there just slightly longer.
It was Phillips who hit the winning runs, a square cut that went to the boundary. The Auckland Aces picked up the victory by nine wickets, with more than four sessions remaining in the match.
There’s a long break for the Aces in four-day cricket. The next match is against Otago on 21 February 2019. In the meantime, they will have to quickly shift gears as they build into their first Burger King Super Smash game on 24 December.
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