It was a bowlers' morning after a dew-delayed opening day in Dunedin. Instagram image courtesy of Donovan Grobbelaar

Volts hammer it home over the Aces

Plunket Shield round seven: Mondiale Auckland Aces 335 all out in 118.2 overs (Raval 35, Kitchen 32, O'Donnell 59, Brad Cachopa 71, Nethula 49, Bartlett 34 not out, Quinn 40; Jacob Duffy 2-69, Rae 2-65, Ryder 2-32) and 280/9 in 119.5 overs (Kitchen 63, Rob Nicol retired hurt on 17, O'Donnell 41, Grobbelaar 29, Brad Cachopa 60; Jacob Duffy maiden 5-57) lost to the SBS Bank Otago Volts  360/8 declared in 89.4 overs (Bracewell 126, Ryan Duffy 65, Ryder 56, de Boorder 42, Finnie on first-class debut 29; Bates 3-73) and 258/6 in 38.3 overs (Rutherford 74 off 45, Bracewell 45, Ryan Duffy 57, de Boorder 36 not out; Nethula 4-86) by four wickets at University Oval, Dunedin

Video scorecard

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DAY FOUR

On the final morning, Robbie O'Donnell was denied a chance to build on his patient work of the previous day when he edged Craig Smith in the opening 10 minutes of play, dismissed for his overnight score of 41. Rob Nicol, who had retired hurt on day three after being struck on the helmet, did not take his place; Brad Cachopa the new man.

He and Donovan Grobbelaar were on the brink of pasting up the Mondiale Aces' 200 inside that first hour when Jacob Duffy caught the edge of Grobbelaar's bat, Grobbelaar becoming Derek de Boorder's sixth catch of the match behind the stumps.

Tarun Nethula joined Cachopa as the plot thickened, yet the Aces kept their heads down and occupied. Dot balls dominated the scoresheets, but with lunch looming Cachopa tucked into a boundary off Hamish Rutherford to post yet another rearguard half-ton for the season.

The Aces' lead was 229 at the break, but the going had been slow: was Nicol going to set a target? The choice was suddenly snatched away from him late in the middle session. Jacob Duffy made a spectacular double breakthrough, bowling both Cachopa and Nethula in the same over. Now they were seven down, and it quickly became nine down as the last three wickets clattered for the addition of only 10 runs.

The Volts had effectively bowled the pedestrian Aces out for 280, Nicol unable to resume his innings after yesterday's knock to the helmet (view the video under 'Day Three' below) and 20-year-old Jacob Duffy claiming his maiden first-class five wicket bag on a good day out for both Duffy brothers.

The Volts required 256 runs to win, 50 overs left in the day to get them: a one-day chase with the red ball. Hamish Rutherford attacked from the outset, pelting three boundaries off Matt Quinn's opening over, then two more off Bates to set the tone. He and Aaron Redmond had already galloped to a 50-run stand when he lost his batting partner to Nethula early in the eighth over: 63/1.

Rutherford charged on, slamming a six off Dean Bartlett en route to a snappy half-century, off just 29 balls. Michael Bracewell meanwhile clipped a three to register the Volts' 100 shortly before tea: now, at the break, the chase was down to 146, after just 13 overs of non-stop assault.

Rutherford had just slaughtered Tarun Nethula for his second six when the Aces finally shut him down, Nethula getting him next ball for a ballistic 74 off 45 balls. The swift injection of runs had set it up for the Volts, however, Ryan Duffy taking the handover with 123 more required.

Bracewell helped himself to his first six, off Matt Quinn, to cut the equation to 100 off 29 overs. Next over, he was gone for 45 to a steepling edge after he attempted a sweep, Nethula making all the play in the wickets column with three from three, all caught. Yet it was the Volts who were making the big statement.

The sight of Jesse Ryder strolling to the middle with 94 left to get didn't ease any of the pressure on the Aces, but his stay was a short one: just two overs for little damage before the fearsome hitter chopped one on from Anaru Kitchen. But by now the Volts needed just three per over to bring it home.

Ticking along at run-a-ball pace, that was well within the capability of Ryan Duffy and de Boorder. Duffy notched his second half-ton of the match, off 64 balls, as they closed in, and was out lbw to Nethula when just 11 runs were left to acquire the victory. O'Donnell trapped Josh Finnie for a duck next over, but it was too little too late as de Boorder found the winning runs with 11 overs to spare.

DAY THREE

Mondiale Auckland Aces skipper Rob Nicol was quickly rewarded for bringing himself into the attack in the morning session, snaring the prize wicket of centurion Michael Bracewell. Bracewell had added 14 runs to his overnight score for an ultimate 126, including 14 boundaries, after nearly five hours hauling the SBS Bank Otago Volts into a respectable position.

His dismissal brought Plunket Shield debutant Josh Finnie to join Derek de Boorder in the middle as the Volts closed in on 300. Finnie made 29 on debut before falling to the new ball amid a flurry of three wickets that prompted Aaron Redmond to declare on 360/8 and put the Aces back in for five overs before lunch.

The Volts' first innings lead was rhetorical at 25 runs, but despite successfully negotiating the tricky period before lunch, the Aces innings was not destined to be a gentle restart. Opener Jeet Raval top-edged one behind off Jacob Duffy after the break, then at 53/1 the Aces lost the services of their captain Nicol, who was forced to retire hurt on 17 after ducking into a bouncer from Neil Wagner, struck on the helmet.

Nicol initially kept going and saw out the over before leaving the field, feeling unwell. Wagner was unafraid to continue using the short ball, and later had a fortunate Robbie O'Donnell dropped off another, and then "caught" off a no-ball. Meantime, though, it was Jesse Ryder who had picked up a useful wicket, removing Colin Munro cheaply.

Surviving it all was Anaru Kitchen, who brought up his half-century shortly before tea. The tempo of the match slowed down as the evening stretched on, but just as the Aces had chalked up a 100-lead, they lost their third wicket. Kitchen was the only man to fall in the session (nicking one behind off Finnie for 63), and by stumps the Aces had crept forward to 178/3. O'Donnell and Donovan Grobbelaar had ground out an unbroken 53-run stand off 174 balls for an overall lead of 153 before play ended at close to 7.30pm.

DAY TWO

Dean Bartlett and Tarun Nethula showed that the Mondiale Auckland Aces bat deep as they poured on a 50-run stand for the ninth wicket, Nethula having been just a metre or so from a racy little half century when he was run out on 49, Jacob Duffy doing the fielding off his bowling. It was a timely wicket for the SBS Bank Otago Volts, however, as it secured them a maximum four bowling bonus points just before the 110 overs cut-off.

Bartlett and Matt Quinn found another couple of boundaries between them en route to posting the Aces' 300, charging on to 335 after number eleven Quinn whalloped two sixes in one over off Craig Smith.

It was the culmination of a significant fightback. The Aces had added 105 runs for their last two wickets: now Volts captain Aaron Redmond had had enough, and decided to bowl himself. He wrapped it up as Quinn went for it again and sent a catch to Neil Wagner, the tall up-and-comer having threatened to post a second career half century, but forced to settle instead for a run-a-ball 40.

The Aces continued to frustrate the Volts when they took the ball, Michael Bates ripping out two wickets in his first three overs — Redmond caught at point and Hamish Rutherford bowled — to have the hosts 27/2 at lunch.

But the strong middle session was just what the Volts wanted, Ryan Duffy reaching his maiden first-class half-century after his flatmate Michael Bracewell had led the way with one of his own. The duo steered their side out of trouble to 161/2 at the break.

Bracewell was unbeaten on 74 as the last session began. After he survived a caught behind opportunity that slithered through the keeper's gloves, the partnership extended to 143 before Bartlett trapped Duffy on 65. The breakthrough ushered in Jesse Ryder at his easy best, picking his first six off Quinn and casually rustling up 56 off just 67 balls before Nethula managed to get one past his big bat and onto the stumps towards the end of the day.

Bracewell had been on 80 when Ryder had arrived at the wicket and it had been an hour and a quarter of afternoon fun together, during which Bracewell raised his bat for his seventh first-class century, off just 135 balls.

Bracewell was unbeaten on 112 when bad light ended the days play, the Aces' lead having been quickly chopped down to just 66.

DAY ONE

Dew caused a delayed beginning in Dunedin, and will see play on each of the remaining days now begin at 11am.

Given the conditions, SBS Bank Otago Volts captain Aaron Redmond wasted no time sending in the Mondiale Auckland Aces and, after 19-year-old medium-fast right-armer Michael Brae managed to break the opening stand by bowling both openers, the first session turned to custard for the visitors.

Wickets kept tumbling to leave them in rocky shape at 78/5 at lunch — Jacob Duffy having accounted for Rob Nicol and Donovan Grobbelaar, and Jesse Ryder picking up Colin Munro with only five runs in the scorebook among the three batsmen.

Eighteen-year-old Josh Finnie was on first-class debut for the Volts, replacing injured Test spinner Mark Craig, but his bowling services were not required until late in the middle session as the Aces — rescued yet again by keeper-batsman Brad Cachopa — began to get some solidity to their innings.

By tea Cachopa, batting at seven, had chalked up a patient half-century, 10 boundaries in his unbeaten 63, young Robbie O'Donnell playing support act.

Their 89-run stand had seen the Aces recover to 163/5 at the break, Cachopa pressing on to 71 before Finnie finally got him as his maiden Plunket Shield wicket, after resistance of some three hours, thanks to the safe grab of his captain.

The damage had been a stand of 116 for the sixth wicket, but Cachopa's young accomplice O'Donnell wasn't done. He marked his own half-century in the last session with a boundary off Ryder, having been a study of concentration across 165 balls. Ryder took the new ball and immediately extracted payback, O'Donnell lbw to the new cherry on 59.

Neil Wagner then finally picked up his first wicket of the innings (taking out Michael Bates lbw for a duck) shortly before bad light ended play, the Aces in a much better position than two sessions previously at 233/8.

 

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