Plunket Shield round eight: Auckland Aces v Northern Districts at Eden Park Outer Oval, 14-17 March 2017
Operating from first drop, rising star Glenn Phillips became the second young batsman in the match to post a maiden first-class century, galloping through the nineties courtesy of a six off Scott Kuggelelijn before reaching three figures with a boundary off Ish Sodhi in the morning session as the Aces looked to set themselves up for an outright win.
The century notably also saw the former NZ U19s rep become the first player to score a T20, List A and first-class century in the same New Zealand domestic season — all at just 20 years old.
Phillips and captain Rob Nicol put on 130 runs for the third wicket before Phlllips was out shortly after his milestone, caught off Kuggeleijn on 109. Nicol then fell to Sodhi the very next over, just three runs short of his half century. The Aces in the lead by 329 runs, Nicol promptly declared.
The defending champions were after maximum points to keep their hopes buoyant heading into the last two rounds, but Northern Districts put up a fight in the middle session.
Henry Cooper backed up his first innings maiden ton with 83 and put on 73 for the first wicket alongside Joe Carter (42). However, by the time Cooper was stumped off Tarun Nethula, wickets had rattled all round him, ND 193 for six with captain Corey Anderson, who blasted a quick 36, the only other to have made something of an impression.
Once again in the match, Scott Kuggeleijn and Tim Seifert found themselves fresh at the crease together. When they got the side to 200, a further 130 runs were needed, four wickets still in hand and 22 overs remaining: an asking rate of just under a run a ball.
Kuggeleijn hit out to a top, running grab from Phillips in the deep to usher in Ish Sodhi at 214 for seven, 116 runs now still required.
After a hopeful 31, Seifert, too, would fall in the safe hands of Phillips, giving Nethula his fourth. The asking rate for the late order was now more than seven per over and the wicket-hunting Aces kept up the pressure to bowl out ND for 258 and a crucial 71-run victory.
Taking the desired full points, even without the services of Colin Munro (who had been suspended for one match) the outright saw the defending champs leap from fourth to second on the table, overtaking ND along the way, leg-spinner Nethula finishing with 5-84.
The Aces now round out the season by facing the two bottom-placed teams in the season, starting with the Otago Volts next week in Dunedin, but will also need the weather's cooperation if they are to overtake Canterbury and hold on to the premier first-class prize.
Having resumed on 73, in just his third Plunket Shield match Northern Districts 23-year-old Henry Cooper successfully went on to post his maiden first-class century in the morning session, having smashed his previous best of 34 with 10 boundaries and a lofted straight six off Glenn Phillips along the way.
Chasing the Aces' first innings tally of 461, he took ND to 286 for four before his fun was over, caught behind after catching a feather while attempting a pull shot against Mitch McClenaghan.
Corey Anderson was already lost on 80 and, with Daryl Mitchell having departed next over after Cooper, at lunch ND was still 170 runs in arrears with just four wickets in hand and two new batsmen at the crease in Tim Seifert and Scott Kuggeleijn.
They fell away, and by tea the Aces were batting again, having dismissed ND for 334 without much further damage to the scorecard, Raja Sandhu and Tarun Nethula both continuing their excellent all-round games with four-fors, Sandhu's a career best effort in his second match.
The Aces had taken maximum bonus points from both innings and were well positioned overnight at 151 for two, a lead of 278, with youngster Glenn Phillips just 14 runs away from a maiden first-class century heading into the final day tomorrow.
First innings batting bonus points, Aces 4 (maximum achieved), ND 1* (in progress)
First innings bowling bonus points, ND 4 (maximum achieved); Aces 0* (in progress)
Fighting to get back into a position to defend their Plunket Shield title, the Auckland Aces’ tail did much more than wag at a warm Eden Park Outer Oval.
Batting at nine, BLACKCAPS pace bowler Mitch McClenaghan reached his highest first-class score on day two today with an unbeaten 73, up from a previous first-class best of 34.
He was joined by newbie number 11 Raja (Rajvinder) Sandhu who, in just his second first-class match, made the highest ever individual score by an Auckland Aces batsman batting in that position — his 82 off 94 balls easily going past 60 off 50 balls by Pieter Erasmus against the Otago Volts in 2009/10.
Not only that, but McClenaghan and Sandhu put on 139 together for the 10th wicket. The epic rearguard stand broke firstly the 10th wicket partnership record for the side v Northern Districts (previously held by Paul Kelly and Gary Troup with 103, set in 1985/86) and then a pre-World War II vintage mark, the 10th wicket partnership record for the Aces versus allcomers (previously 119, set by Bill Carson and Jack Cowie in the 1937/38 season).
When Sandhu was finally dismissed, having hit an astonishing eight boundaries and five sixes in his 84 off 92 balls, he became ND leg-spinner Ish Sodhi’s 150th first-class wicket, and it ended the Auckland Aces’ first innings at a hefty 461, after they had been 322/9. The wicket was also Sodhi’s 100th for Northern Districts.
ND ended day two trailing the Aces by 249 runs with eight wickets in hand, Northland’s young Henry Cooper unbeaten at stumps on a career-best 73 with captain Corey Anderson on 76 for a 142-run third-wicket stand that will resume in the morning.
Hard graft with the bat saw the Auckland Aces through to 322/9 at the close of play on day one.
Aces skipper Rob Nicol had won the toss at the start of the day and had had no hesitation electing to bat first on another superb Outer Oval deck.
After losing two early wickets, the Aces rebuilt their innings through the efforts of "The Two Bobs", Robbie O’Donnell and Nicol. The pair ensured Auckland made it through to lunch without any further damage, 91/2 at the break after the Scott Kuggeleijn had earlier accounted for two handy cheap wickets in Michael Guptill-Bunce and Glenn Phillips.
After lunch, O’Donnell in particular started to open up, finding the rope on 15 occasions on his way to 75. Along with Nicol (46), the pair put on 115 for the third wicket, vindicating the Aces' decision to bat first.
In the middle session, the visitors fought back, taking three wickets including the dangerous Sean Solia on the stroke of tea.
That meant Ben Horne joined Mark Chapman for the final session, the pair from Parnell taking the score past 200.
They continued to tick things over after the tea break, putting on 68 for the sixth wicket and taking the Aces further into batting bonus point territory. Both fell in the final session, however, Chapman just two short of a first-class half century with 48.
That left the final hour to Tarun Nethula, who showed his ability with the blade by scoring a run-a-ball half century, putting on valuable runs in the lower order along with Mitchell McClenaghan.
McClenaghan and Nethula put together a 74-run partnership, the latter falling just a ball after reaching his half century. Lockie Ferguson was also dismissed on the stoke of stumps, leaving McClenaghan unbeaten on 19. He will be joined by Raja Sandhu on day two.
Just as it had been a solid team effort from the Aces, the Northern Districts attack had shared the wicket-taking duties around with Kuggeleijn in line for a five-for if he can claim the last wicket. He went to stumps on 4-75, while Daryl Mitchell had chugged in for 3-40 and Ish Sodhi 2-87 after having bowled 28 overs.