Hola halts Stags’ march to victory
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.
Ajaz Patel took 10 wickets against Auckland, but couldn’t get the win as rain got involved.