Molyneux Park’s reputation for entertaining Central Otago holidaymakers did not disappoint in the opening match of the Ford Trophy season — even if the thrilling last-over finish was not the result the home crowd would have preferred.
Colin Munro and Glenn Phillips pounded centuries to help the Mondiale Auckland Aces chase and beat the SBS Bank Otago Volts by two wickets in a runfest under the summer sun.
The Volts had posted a very respectable 313 for eight thanks in no small part to a wonderful century from Neil Broom.
But Munro upped the ante with a 69-ball hundred – the sixth fastest one-day hundred in New Zealand List A history – and combined in a devastating 121-run partnership with the like-minded young Phillips, who was last week named in the New Zealand Under-19s World Cup squad.
Munro was eventually out for 110 from 79 balls, having pummelled 10 fours and five sixes, while Phillips was out for 101 from 96.
Their efforts almost went unrewarded, however, when the Volts found some late energy after captain Munro holed out.
There was a flurry of wickets, but Tarun Nethula stayed calm to hit 16 from 12 and guide his side to the win.
On a day when the bowlers got hammered, Lockie Ferguson stood out with four wickets for 68 on his List A debut (teammate Shawn Hicks and the Volts' Warren Barnes also making their Ford Trophy debuts).
A little expensive, perhaps — but he did account for Broom, Hamish Rutherford and Michael Bracewell.
Bracewell was dropped three times on his way to 63 as the Aces turned in a fielding performance they will not be proud of. But by far the most painful drop was when Broom was spilled in the slip cordon on just nine.
Broom went on to post his fifth one-day hundred from 97 balls, and was out two deliveries later for a fine 101.
During his stint at the crease, he combined with Bracewell for a stand of 71, and then with captain Rutherford for a partnership of 54.
The Aces did a good job of restricting the boundaries towards the end, and when Broom was closing in on his 100. That flat patch had cost the Volts perhaps an extra 20 runs, which could have proved very valuable.
The home side first became aware of how tough it would be to defend 300-plus in the seventh over, when young Phillips took the challenge to BLACKCAPS test bowler Neil Wagner — carving the left-armer over point for six.
Wagner responded with an effort ball, and Phillips fluffed a catch to square leg. Wagner had overstepped, though, and was called for a no ball.
The free ball was cut through point for four, and the next delivery was driven down the ground for another boundary.
Sixteen runs came off the over as Auckland continued to make rapid progress, until both Phillips and Munro were out. Nethula did the rest.
The Mondiale Auckland Aces now travel to Seddon Park to play their round two away game against the SKYCITY Northern Knights on Wednesday, while the Volts have to stay put in Alexandra to prepare for Canterbury, who will arrive coming off a comfortable win over the Devon Hotel Central Stags.
All FORD TROPHY matches are livescored at www.blackcaps.co.nz and on the BLACKCAPS mobile app