Northern Districts takes The Ford Trophy lead
The Ford Trophy has a new leader after Northern Districts overtook Canterbury as the first segment of the one-day championship reached its conclusion on Tuesday.
With six of the 10 rounds completed (four rounds to come in February 2021) Northern Districts, Canterbury and the Otago Volts all remain in the box seats to make the top three for the playoffs.
However, the Central Stags' first win of the campaign cost Canterbury the lead as the red and blacks stumbled for just the second time in the campaign.
At the same time, ND is hitting top gear, a repeat win over the Otago Volts today propelling the northerners to a four-point lead on the ladder and three wins on the bounce.
In captain Tom Bruce's 50th List A game, the Stags broke their egg with an emphatic bonus point win at Pukekura Park - and did so despite having lost opening bowler Seth Race during warm-ups to a calf niggle.
Young pacemen Ray Toole and Joey Field consequently opened the attack together for the first time and kept things tight before form spinners Jayden Lennox (a career best 3-30) and George Worker (1-6 off three overs) put the Stags right on top.
Young allrounder Christian Leopard also picked up a career best 2-22 as he bowled Canterbury out for 158 in just the 42nd over, the Stags beginning their chase - and losing two wickets - before lunch. Bruce (42* off 74) and Josh Clarkson (56* off 46) eventually walked the hosts home, however, with 19 overs to spare for the bonus point to boot.
In Auckland, 23-year-old Will O'Donnell entered the match at Outer Oval having scored four half centuries in a row, and walked off with his maiden century, in his 14th appearance.
Like the Stags, the Aces had been desperate to reignite their campaign and had been in danger of running out of time to keep their slim dreams of a title defence alive.
Left-armer Ben Lister and Ollie Pringle ensured the hosts got a fierce start with the ball, Pringle picking up his maiden List A wicket and carrying on for 3-70.
However, the Firebirds fought back with number five Troy Johnson (113 off 116 balls) celebrating his maiden hundred as well as sharing a new fifth-wicket record for his side against Auckland of 124, alongside captain Fraser Colson (45*) - bettering the previous mark of 101 between the teams, set in 1995/96.
After Pringle prised them apart, Johnson remarkably formed a second record stand between the two sides, this time putting on 99 for the sixth wicket alongside bullish allrounder Jamie Gibson (64 not out off 38) as the Firebirds got through to a total of 283/6 with a big finish.
The Aces' reply was dominated by O'Donnell siblings Will and Robbie who combined in a record third-wicket stand of 132 in matches between the Aces and Firebirds (breaking a mark of 109 that had been set by Lou Vincent and Gareth Hopkins in 2010/11).
Will O’Donnell ticked off his maiden List A century en route to 106 off 120 balls while his big brother reached his ninth List A half century, but after they both departed, the chase remained in the balance until some big hitting against the death bowlers finished the game in the 48th over.
In Dunedin, ND's 243 after electing to bat proved more than enough to bag a bonus point win, even though none of their batsman got to fifty.
The Otago Volts simply suffered a disastrous start to their chase, five big wickets falling inside the first 15 overs - and then a tentative recovery by opening batsman Mitch Renwick (48) and Dale Phillips (35) halted when they were both removed with the scoreboard stuck on 107.
The Volts' tail managed to push that collective effort up to 177 but it was a field day for a tight ND attack with the wickets shared between Matt Fisher (a career best 4-34), allrounder Brett Hampton (3-30 off eight) and spinner Joe Walker (2-32 off 10).
The Ford Trophy will resume on Friday, 19 February 2021 in Queenstown, Auckland and Wellington. Before then, all six teams will contest the Dream11 Super Smash which will begin with defending champions the Wellington Blaze and Firebirds hosting the Auckland Hearts and Aces in a free admission doubleheader at the Basin Reserve on Christmas Eve.
ROUND 6 FORD TROPHY SCORECARDS | RESULTS
Points after Round 6
Northern Districts 22 (points this round: 5)
Canterbury 18 (0)
Otago Volts 12 (0)
Wellington Firebirds 10 (0)
Auckland Aces 9 (4)
Central Stags 7 (5)
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