It is game on at the Outer Oval for the ACES and Central Stags as wickets continued to tumble for the majority of the day.
The morning session didn’t play out the way the ACES will have hoped, losing both overnight batsmen before the new ball. While Doug Bracewell (4-96) and Ray Toole (4-38) fought to drag the Stags back into the contest, Will Somerville (22*) and Ollie Pringle (18) combined for a 33-run tenth-wicket stand to lift the ACES lead to 286.
George Worker and Greg Hay would survive the two overs before lunch but weren’t so fortunate when the ACES fired up after the break. It was no surprise that Jamieson struck first, working over the Stags openers before sneaking one through Worker’s defences from around the wicket.
Sean Solia then benefitted from one that stayed a little low as Young attempted a pull shot. Pringle then ran one into Hay’s front pad and the ACES had three. There was plenty happening at the Outer Oval with so much time left in the match.
Jamieson returned to the attack for his second spell, supplying Bruce’s outside edge to Martin Guptill at second slip. Ross Taylor was again frenetic, edging Pringle through the slips before twice hitting the ACES seamer over the leg-side. Three boundaries in three balls had the ACES on alert, but Pringle held his nerve and Jamieson held on to a running catch at mid-on.
Dane Cleaver and Brad Schmulian survived a barrage before tea, but neither could withstand the ACES pressure upon returning to the crease. Solia bounced Cleaver out, combining with Guptill diving forward at deep square leg and, two balls later, Somerville drew an edge from a cutting Schmulian.
The ACES were then made to toil as Bracewell counterattacked against a concerted spell of short-pitched bowling. The Stags all-rounder had excellent support in debutant Joey Field. The ACES bowlers searched for a breakthrough for the majority of the final session and, at 6.25 PM, it finally came through Solia (3-38), with Field given leg-before for 32.
Bracewell (65*) kept out the final six balls of the day, leaving the Stags with 77 runs to win while the ACES will hunt the remaining two wickets tomorrow morning.
Auckland ACES 167 (M Chapman 54, D Bracewell 3-18, S Rance 3-54) and 269 (G Phillips 66, G Beghin 55, R Toole 4-38, D Bracewell 4-96) lead Central Stags 150 (G Worker 53, K Jamieson 5-41) and (D Bracewell 65*, J Field 32, S Solia 3-38) by 76 runs.