The return of Sean Solia was just one Ace in the Aucklanders' pack as they handed out a seven-wicket lesson to the Otago Volts at Molyneux Park.
The Volts are under major pressure now at the bottom of the Burger King Super Smash ladder after back-to-back losses at their Alexandra holiday home, still yet to get a win anywhere this season after five games, one washout included.
This one was a particular heartbreaker for the Volts, though, after a good batting effort at the top with a half century from Hamish Rutherford with support from Shawn Hicks — before a sustained Aces attack saw the order fall away from 55 for one to 128 for seven, the southerners eventually reaching 147 in their 20 overs for no further loss as the tail belted what they could against a disciplined attack.
That attack included the surprise reappearance of T20 veteran Ronnie Hira, the 30-year-old playing his 101st domestic T20 match after having made one appearance for the Knights last season.
He was unrewarded but restrictive on the beloved boutique ground, while youngsters Ben Lister (above, 3-25) — the impressive tall left-armer — and livewire spinner Teja Nidamanuru (1-22) also shone with their tight approach.
The Volts had dropped Jimmy Neesham for his match and sprang a surprise with the inclusion of New Zealand Under-19 spinner Ben Lockrose on debut, but with just 147 on the tins they seemed all but powerless to stop the Aces powering back to the top of the Burger King Super Smash table with a slick all-round performance.
Solia's rapid 34 at the top gave the Aces a good start to the chase before captain Craig Cachopa clinched it with his unbeaten 52 from 35 balls, Rob O'Donnell (38 not out from 29) joining him in an 80-stand as they knocked off the win in classy style.