The weather leading up to Invercargill’s round six Ford Trophy showcase match was abysmal. Thanks to dedicated groundstaff who had worked long into the previous night, the match was superb — especially if you're a Volts fan.
How it happened
Auckland Aces captain Rob Nicol has been getting plenty of stick from his own team about his toss record, but today the coin landed favourably and Nicol jumped at bowling after a weather-delayed start.
The Volts got off to a decent start with Gregor Croudis and Michael Rippon putting on 65 by the 13th over, Cody Andrews and Donovan Grobbelaar opening the attack for the Aces.
Croudis (38) was first to fall, done by Tarun Nethula. Six-smashing Sean Eathorne joined Rippon to add 56 for the second wicket, before he too was summarily bowled by a spinner — Nicol, this time, for 41.
Rippon was next, caught off Raja Sandhu not long after he had smashed Nicol for six, but his List A best of 83 in 33 overs had laid a solid foundation, and then some, for the Volts.
It enabled Michael Bracewell, Anaru Kitchen, Josh Finnie and Brad Wilson to play freely towards the close of the innings and look for quick runs, Finnie making the most impact with an unbeaten 73 off just 46 balls, five sixes to go with his five boundaries.
Finnie got the Volts up to 340 for seven in their 50 overs at Queen’s Park, Sandhu the most successful of the Aces’ attack with 3-79, albeit a little on the expensive side.
The Aces therefore needed a run rate of almost seven but began making a sound reply with Glenn Phillips and Jeet Raval crunching to a 91-run opening stand.
They would both eventually be claimed by Rippon, but Sean Solia came in and glided to yet another half century in his debut season and, after the relatively cheap loss of Mark Chapman and a still-not-quite-at-his-best Robbie O’Donnell, Rob Nicol chimed in with 48.
Nicol, like Solia, was done in by Neil Wagner’s fire and steam, caught at the death. By then the Aces were 288 for six, needing a big finish — 53 runs — from the final three overs to get up, then 48 from the last two.
Nicol’s ally Michael Barry was still there and reached 38 before he was caught as the equation went skyrocketing in the last over, the Aces coming up a good few strides short of the finish line. Wagner, Christi Viljoen and Jack Hunter had kept it in control.
The 33-run win to the Volts kept them second to last on the table, but put them in a stronger position to jostle for a top four Finals spot over the last two rounds. However, it was not without cost, Wagner fracturing his left ring finger while fielding a ball off his own bowling and now out of action for the remainder of the competition. The Aces head to Colin Maiden Park to host Canterbury this Saturday while the Volts visit the Basin Reserve.