Hola halts Stags’ march to vic­tory

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR HEALTH - BEN STRANG

Cy­clone Hola will be re­ceiv­ing mixed re­views from ri­vals in the Plun­ket Shield.

For the Auck­land Aces and the Welling­ton Fire­birds, Hola came through with a five-star per­for­mance when she was needed most, end­ing what looked a cer­tain Cen­tral Stags vic­tory at the Eden Park Outer Oval in an ex­cel­lent draw.

But for the vis­it­ing Stags, Hola was a hor­ror show. With just two wick­ets needed for vic­tory, the rains came on Mon­day morn­ing and washed Cen­tral’s chances of vic­tory away. Oh how for­tunes can change. At the end of the third day in Auck­land, the Aces were 152-5 and knew they needed 168 more to avoid an in­nings de­feat at the hands of the Stags.

Ajaz Pa­tel was in spell bind­ing form, hav­ing nabbed 5-42 in the first in­nings and 3-31 in the sec­ond. He was the joker to Auck­land’s Aces.

While Pa­tel started the fourth day as he’d fin­ished the third, by re­mov­ing Ben Horne and Stu­art Meaker in the space of four overs and claim­ing 10 wick­ets for the match, the Aces switched games and played their get out of jail free card.

Hola ar­rived around mid­day, forc­ing the teams off the field with Auck­land on 181-8, 139 be­hind Cen­tral’s score, and didn’t al­low them to get back on.

The Stags did still move top of the Plun­ket Shield ta­ble with the draw, but they could have had quite the lead with a dom­i­nant win.

They also know a Welling­ton fight­back against Otago in Dunedin isn’t com­pletely off the ta­ble, and could see their com­pe­ti­tion lead last just one day.

At Eden Park Outer Oval, Auck­land (day four):

Cen­tral Stags 524 drew with Auck­land Aces 204 and 181-8 (Sean So­lia 59, Michael Gup­till-Bunce 33; Pa­tel 5-39)

Welling­ton looked on track for a mam­moth sec­ond in­nings as Michael Papps scored 128 from 277 balls, push­ing the Fire­birds into a healthy sec­ond in­nings lead.

But when Papps fell with the score on 271-3 in the 96th over, Welling­ton col­lapsed to 309 all out and a lead of just 215.

Four Welling­ton wick­ets fell with the score on 275, as Fraser Colson, Lo­gan van Beek, Devon Con­way and Jee­tan Pa­tel all fell in the space of six balls to Michael Rae and Ja­cob Duffy.

While Peter Younghus­band showed some late re­sis­tance with 17 not out from 19 balls, the tail tum­bled and Welling­ton’s prom­ise of a big to­tal was oblit­er­ated.

At least they could smile at the weather fore­cast in Auck­land.

Rae was the chief de­stroyer with a spell of 5-18 from eight overs, start­ing with Papps who was caught on the deep square bound­ary.

Van Beek and Iain McPeake took a wicket each to have Otago at 62-2 at stumps, need­ing 153 more runs on the fi­nal day to se­cure vic­tory.

At Univer­sity Oval, Dunedin (day three):

Welling­ton Fire­birds 194 and 309 (Michael Papps 128, S Mur­doch 48; M Rae 5-18) met Otago Volts 289 and 62-2 (R Ni­col 27no)

At Whangarei’s Cob­ham Oval, not a ball was bowled Mon­day as North­ern Dis­tricts and Can­ter­bury ended up in a rain-ef­fected draw.

North­ern had been in good po­si­tion to press for vic­tory against Can­ter­bury, need­ing eight wick­ets to re­move the vis­i­tors be­fore chas­ing what would have been a mod­est tar­get.

But Hola wasn’t hav­ing any of it, leav­ing both sides firmly in the bot­tom half of the Plun­ket Shield ta­ble.

MAR­GOT BUTCHER/PHOTOSPORT

Ajaz Pa­tel took 10 wick­ets against Auck­land, but couldn’t get the win as rain got in­volved.

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