26 Jun, Sunday

Dominant ACES make it three-from-three


Dominant ACES make it three-from-three

Praneel HiraAces

The Auckland ACES have collected a third successive Plunket Shield win, defeating Canterbury by 224 runs to remain at the top of the table.

The ACES were dominant from the first day with Martin Guptill (195) and skipper Robert O’Donnell adding 278 for the fourth wicket.

Guptill dominated the early scoring, going on to score his 17th First-Class century and his 9th for Auckland.

The veteran threatened to score a hundred in the opening session of the match, going to lunch on Day One unbeaten on 82 off 93 balls. In the end, Guptill’s 195 off 212 balls matched his career-best for the ACES, succumbing to a fine diving catch by Ken McClure at gully.

Resuming at 160 on Day Two, O’Donnell continued on to his maiden First-Class double-hundred, finishing with 223 (334) balls – the 7th highest score for Auckland.

For O’Donnell, it was his fourth century in his last six First-Class matches, a sixth in total. The skipper hit 20 fours and 9 sixes during his 100th Plunket Shield knock.

A marathon first-up batting effort took the hosts through to 543/9 before O’Donnell decided it was time to have a bowl, shortly after lunch on Day Two.

Moving Day had come early and it didn’t take long for the hosts to turn batting dominance into ascendancy with the ball. Ben Lister and Sean Solia set the ACES on their way as Canterbury went to stumps at 135/7.

A patient Canterbury lower order set the stall, but Lister, Keene and Glenn Phillips eventually wrapped up the tail to give the ACES a lead of 347. O’Donnell had lunch to mull over whether or not to enforce the follow on and decided to bat again.

The ACES had a little fun taking 131/2 from 15 overs, led largely by a third fast fifty by Phillips, who hit 57 off 31 balls. The allrounder’s 29-ball half-century sitting beside 30- and 20- ball efforts against the Otago Volts in the ACES last outing.

Chasing 479, the Cantebury top order looked to set the platform going to stumps on Day Three at 81/2.

Keene then produced another memorable spell to get the ACES on a roll early on the final day. In just his second First-Class match, Keene now has 15 wickets, including a five-wicket haul on debut.

The 20-year old added to his two wickets at the end of Day Three, by claiming four more to finish with career-best figures of 6-44. Lister chimed in with an early one too as the ACES picked up five wickets in the morning session.

Henry Shipley, who scored 61 in the first innings, combined with Will Williams to force the ACES into ringing the changes. With plenty of time left in the match, it was a matter of time.

Phillips found some turn to trap Shipley in front for 70 off 126 balls, before Keene nabbed his sixth.

12 overs later, Lister trapped Fraser Sheat in front to pick his fifth wicket of the match; Williams finished unbeaten on 37 having faced 245 balls in the match.