Canterbury beat the Auckland Aces by 38 runs in Christchurch
Under-pressure defending champions Canterbury produced another patchy performance with the bat after captain Andrew Ellis had won the toss at home — but when they had the Auckland Aces seven down at the 40-over mark in reply, the needle was firmly in their favour.
Henry Nicholls’s 70 at first drop underpinned Canterbury’s tally of 266, batting into the 33rd over after having steadied the red and black ship in a 91-run second wicket stand with Michael Pollard (57, below).
Nicholls’ dismissal triggered a stream of wickets — Tarun Nethula again superb through the middle, along with good pressure from Michael Barry and Mark Chapman (2-44), the veteran leggie returning a tight 3-43.
Canterbury was all out in the last over, but a hard-hitting cameo of 29 from Ellis and Tim Johnston’s 32 off just 21 balls at nine meant the hosts were still a fair chance to stay alive in the competition.
Ellis would later deal a timely blow with the ball, too, when he dismissed Mitchell McClenaghan in the 46th over to have the Aces teetering at 220 for eight and requiring a big push at the death to get up.
When a scrambling Nethula was run out three balls later, Canterbury supporters could almost breathe again, Lockie Ferguson and Jamie Brown both new at the crease against the challenging pace duo of Ellis and quick Ed Nuttall.
It was captain Ellis who had the last laugh, claiming the final wicket of Ferguson for a 38-run win in order for Canterbury to live to fight another day.
The victory lifted Canterbury from last to fourth on the table — now two points ahead of the Volts and Firebirds, the latter of whom will face Canterbury in the final round on Sunday back at Hagley Oval.