The Auckland Aces have been knocked out of contention for the Plunket Shield after the gamble to get a result against Canterbury didn’t pay off.
A good start to day four was critical for the Aces, and they managed it with Glenn Phillips and Sean Solia at the crease.
Phillips brought up his 50 and started to play more expansively, the scoring rate above that which the Aces needed. Solia anchored the other end, scoring more conservatively.
He brought up his 50 just before drinks, and Auckland might have thought they’d recovered from their horror start to the innings.
First over after drinks – disaster. A superb ball to Phillips from Andrew Hazeldine, and Canterbury went up for caught behind. A prolonged appeal, a prolonged deliberation from the umpire – and up went the finger. Phillips dismissed for 76, and he didn’t look happy about it.
Solia moved into the role of shot-maker. Robbie O’Donnell came in after Phillips, but went for just six, completely beaten by a ball from Todd Astle.
Two overs later, Solia was back in the sheds as well. Another good ball from Astle and a sharp catch at first slip, Solia was out for 71.
Finn Allen and Ben Horne navigated the final overs until lunch. Auckland’s score was 174/5, needing another 177. Canterbury needed another five wickets.
After lunch the Canterbury bowlers put the screws on the Aces batsmen. The wicket was turning and Astle was looking dangerous.
So he proved to be, as Horne shouldered arms to a ball which turned back and took out his off-stump.
Will Somerville joined Allen for the next hour, as the pair took the Aces past the 200-run mark. Unfortunately, there was to be no batting heroics from Auckland’s spinner, caught behind off Fraser Sheat for 15.
Matt McEwan strode to the wicket and got underway in his customary style – his second scoring shot was a six.
With Allen and McEwan still in, there was some vestige of hope that the Aces would make the total. However, Astle was far from done. He picked up Allen as his fourth wicket, a ball which slid between bat and pad to knock out middle stump. As Allen’s head dropped, so did the hopes of an Aces win.
Astle then picked up his five-for in the next over, with McEwan caught going for another big shot.
Ben Lister and Jamie Brown came to the wicket with no constraints – Auckland needed 106, it was gone, the only thing that remained was a touch of pride. Both players found the boundary with a couple of impressive shots, driving Auckland to within 100 runs.
It couldn’t last. Brown failed to clear Sheat and was caught on the boundary.
Auckland was all out for 270 – 80 runs short of the mark.
Image Credit: Photosport.co.nz.