Attacking fifties by Craig Cachopa and Mark Chapman have powered the ACES past the Wellington Firebirds and into the Dream11 Super Smash preliminary final.
The ACES were in deep trouble when Cachopa joined Chapman at 33/3, after Martin Guptill, Glenn Phillips and Colin Munro fell during the powerplay. With the Firebirds circling, the pair had no choice but to ease their way into the partnership.
It was steady going through to the middle overs. The pair took their singles square of the wicket, pushed hard for the odd two and found a boundary every other over. Cachopa knew it was do-or-die for the ACES and, in the 13th over, sensed his moment, hitting the first of his five sixes.
The ACES skipper hit Peter Younghusband for 2 fours and 2 sixes as 21 runs came from a game-changing 14th over. Meanwhile, Chapman continued to play the perfect foil, getting on top of the bounce, cutting and pulling into gaps in the outfield.
Both players raised their bats and the partnership blew by 100 as the finish line came into focus. Cachopa powered a further two sixes off Ollie Newton in a long 17th over, before Younghusband snaffled a diving catch in the covers with the ACES requiring one run to win.
Earlier, Devon Conway (69) had again led the way for the Firebirds, batting through all but seven balls of the host’s 165/7. Rachin Ravindra threatened to build with Conway, after Kyle Jamieson gave the ACES an early breakthrough in the 3rd over.
Ravindra had shown excellent power until Ronnie Hira snuck one onto the left-hander’s front pad. The ACES spinners kept the Firebirds in check throughout and Jamieson returned throughout to make critical breakthroughs.
Jamieson added the wickets of Tom Blundell and Conway to initial scalp of Michael Pollard, while Chapman stood Cachopa threw the left-arm spinner the ball at the death.
The Knights would later defeat the Kings to confirm the ACES place in the Dream11 Super Smash playoffs.
Image credit: photosport.nz