It was a relief to get out and play cricket on day three of the Auckland Aces’ match against Canterbury in Rangiora.
After losing all of day two and a good chunk of day one, play got underway a mere half-hour late as the ground staff mopped up any remaining dampness.
Canterbury finally resumed on 143/3.
Matt McEwan started his day in positive fashion, picking up his second dismissing Leo Carter for 25, caught at second slip.
Cameron Fletcher then joined Stephen Murdoch, and the pair took Canterbury until the lunch break where they were at 245/5.
Murdoch might have had a nervous meal, sitting on 98 runs. It wasn’t a problem though, he brought up his century off 216 balls.
He wouldn’t get to celebrate the hundred partnership with Fletcher however – he was dismissed fending off Sean Solia, caught by Graeme Beghin.
With 15 overs left to pick up first-innings points, both teams began to pay more urgently. Canterbury upped their scoring rate, and with it, Auckland was able to take wickets.
Todd Astle, flown in from the test in Wellington, chipped a ball from Will Somerville to Solia. Two overs later, Henry Shipley was run out, and Canterbury were 291/7.
The 110-over mark saw both teams share the spoils – three points each.
Canterbury were all out on the stroke of tea for 328.
Both teams need a result to keep Central Districts in sight, even before the drama in Napier.
Auckland thus declared their first innings without facing a ball, and Canterbury were back out after tea to set a score they thought they could defend.
Somerville was back in the action early picking up Jack Boyle in his first over, Allen taking the catch under the lid. Six overs later and Chad Bowes went in the exact same way.
Once they reached a 350 lead, Canterbury declared their second innings on 22/2.
The Aces got off to the worst possible start. First Martin Guptill caught behind for 0 in the third over. Then the next ball put paid to Graeme Beghin, also caught behind. With Auckland suddenly at 1/2, survival became the order of the day.
Glenn Phillips combined with Solia and the pair played positively, reaching their 50 partnership and getting the Aces to 80/2 by close of play.
The Aces need 271 for the win tomorrow, eight wickets in hand. Solia will go back out on 34, Phillips on 44.