01 Jul, Friday

Chapman, Horne help ACES sneak home in thriller


Chapman, Horne help ACES sneak home in thriller

Praneel HiraAces

The ACES’ Plunket Shield hopes stay alive after a fascinating day’s cricket at the Outer Oval saw the hosts seal a one-wicket win over Northern Districts.

When rain wiped away all but 7.4 overs of the morning session, the ACES chase of 371 became considerably more difficult. By that time, James Baker had claimed the wickets of both Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips in the third over.

Baker was on fire and added the leg-before decisions of Jeet Raval and Robbie O’Donnell to leave the ACES wobbling at 72/4. The pressure intensified when Sean Solia gloved Scott Kuggeleijn through to the keeper.

Chapman battled through at the other end and found excellent support in Ben Horne. That support built into a record sixth-wicket stand against Northern Districts.

Mark Chapman continued on from his first-innings heroics, joining Northern Districts Joe Carter with hundreds in both innings. The left-hander was again at his dynamic best, driving handsomely to keep the ACES in the chase.

Horne was no slouch either, going at run-a-ball through most of his knock to bring the run-rate under six. Heading into the final 15 overs, the pair had reduced the task to 83 off 15 overs. Horne, the Birthday Boy, brought up his maiden century from 97 balls as the partnership went through the gears.

A six took the stand past 200 before Horne (107) picked out fine-leg. It was Kuggeleijn who mustered the effort to end Horne’s fantastic knock. The ACES wicketkeeper hit 14 fours and 3 sixes to bring the crowd to life but his departure added extra drama to the final 12 overs of the match.

Kuggeleijn kept charging in for the visitors, picking up the key wicket of Chapman (146), who had bettered his career-best effort from the first innings by three runs.

The ACES still required 53 runs and Northern Districts perked up to push for the remaining three wickets. It was Kuggeleijn again who picked up his fourth and the ACES eighth when Matt McEwan pushed one back to the bowler.

The drama heightened. Louis Delport powered a six over wide long-off before a series of tight singles edged the ACES closer. Lockie Ferguson wasn’t afraid to take the aerial route clearing long-on. Delport’s firm sweep took the ACES four runs closer as the equation read 14 off the final four overs.

Ish Sodhi bowled four immaculate deliveries to put the pressure on Delport. The fifth delivery, however, was pulled past deep-square to leave the ACES needing three off the last two overs.

There was still drama to be had. Delport played out a maiden from Kuggeleijn in the penultimate over before Sodhi trapped Ferguson (19) in front.

With light fading, number 11 Ben Lister drove firmly wide of mid-off and the ball seemed destined for the boundary. The fielder pulled the ball in and the match was tied. Sodhi mustered a pair of dots before Delport (24*) picked his moment to go over the bowler’s head and seal a thrilling one-wicket win.