Auckland defeats Otago with inspired bowling
The morning of the third day against Otago threatened to start late after overnight rain. Fortunately, the skies cleared, the Eden Park ground-staff worked their magic, and play got underway on time.
Otago had foundered after a good start to their innings, and going out at 147/5 they needed to consolidate and press on. The Aces had no intention of letting them settle, with two newish batsmen at the crease.
Ben Lister was into his work early and well. On the last ball of his second over he snared Anaru Kitchen for 16, a regulation catch for Ben Horne. A maiden from Matt McEwan next over, and Lister was bowling to number eight Christi Viljoen. Again he caught the edge of the bat, and again Horne took the catch.
Fielders moved in around new batsman Jacob Duffy. Lister put the ball just shorter than his previous delivery, and made contact higher on Duffy’s bat. The ball squirted out beyond the looming slips, and Mark Chapman lunged. He took a sprawling catch, and Ben Lister had a hat-trick. Just the second hat-trick in first-class cricket on Eden Park Outer Oval, the team’s surprise and joy was obvious.
Now 150/8, all the fight went out of Otago. They turned to survival, which didn’t do much for them other than eat a bit more time. Michael Rippon was soon out, after Graeme Beghin picked up a good catch at short leg off Will Somerville. Four more balls and Somerville ended the Otago innings for 154, clean-bowling Tommy Clout.
Auckland wanted a win and they wanted it fast. They enforced the follow-on and Otago walked out to bat again. The Aces were running hot. McEwan grabbed the first wicket, Hamish Rutherford for just four. He found another edge, and Glenn Phillips took another great catch at third slip.
When you have it in the field, you have it in the field. Josh Tasman-Jones was the next victim, an edge off McEwan and Horne took a one-handed catch to his right.
It got worse. Camden Hawkins and Mitch Renwick went within four balls of each other – two more edges, two more great catches. The Volts were staring down the barrel of a complete thrashing at 22/5.
The Aces kept pushing, and Otago were able to make a little more of the softer ball and clearing conditions. They made it to lunch at 51/6
After a first session like that, the second had the air of inevitability about it. Freed from any constraints – or any thoughts of salvaging the match – Rippon and Viljoen began to find the boundary. But it couldn’t last. Lister took care of Rioppn, and McEwan brought up his five-wicket haul with the only wicket that innings not to be caught behind.
Jamie Brown had the final say of the day – Matt Bacon, caught Robbie O’Donnell. Otago’s second innings added 86 runs to their total, and Auckland claimed victory by an innings and 97 runs.
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