Aces need something special to avoid defeat
Friday, 22 February 2013
Aces skipper Gareth Hopkins will be Auckland's big hope this morning
It will take a miracle of fairly large proportion for the Aces to avoid a heavy defeat inside three days against the Canterbury Wizards in their last round Plunket Shield game.
The Aces got half the equation right yesterday by ripping through the Canterbury tail and minimizing their lead but the batting crumbled once more to leave the Aces on 110/7 in their second innings and still 19 runs away from making the Wizards bat again.
Auckland's efforts to get themselves back in the game with the bat got off to the worst possible start when Michael Barry was bowled off the first ball of the innings by Ryan McCone. Anaru Kitchen survived somewhat longer but became McCone's second victim in his fourth over.
Dusan Hakaraia and Craig Cachopa then set about righting the innings, putting on 45 for the third wicket. But just as the pair started to look comfortable a 10 ball spell saw three wickets tumble and the Aces reduced to 66/5. That spell saw both Hakaraia and Cachopa depart as well as Colin de Grandhomme.
From there the Aces limped to the end of the day with skipper Gareth Hopkins standing firm on 25 and he will have Michael Bates as a partner for their unlikely rescue job this morning.
Bates was earlier one of the main reasons the Aces were able to restrict the Canterbury lead to only 129. He picked up three wickets as Auckland were able to finish off the home side quickly, picking up the last four wickets for just five runs.
Peter Fulton carried on from his overnight score to within touching distance of another hundred for the season but fell to Matt Quinn two runs short of that figure. Tom Latham continued Fulton's work with a well-made 51 and with support from Shannan Stewart (27) and Todd Astle (37*) pushed Canterbury up towards the 300 mark.
From there Lockie Ferguson made his presence felt grabbing a couple of wickets to finish with 3/53 and help dismiss the Wizards for 302.
Those efforts are now largely in vain unless the Aces can pull something miraculous out of the bag this morning to avoid an outright defeat and the unwanted title of wooden-spooners.