Final ball glory for Aces over Firebirds

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 21:33 03/03/2013
Gareth Hopkins
PHIL REID/Dominion Post
CAPTAIN TO THE FORE: Gareth Hopkins played a captain's knock as the Aces claimed a last-ball win over the Firebirds.

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A smattering of Wellington Firebirds supporters have been treated to three high-scoring thrillers over the last week at the Basin Reserve.

Unfortunately for those loyal fans, the Firebirds have won only one of them.

Wellington's one-day batting unit was again in fine touch today, racking up an imposing 318-5 on the Basin belter.

But without senior bowlers Mark Gillespie and Jeetan Patel - returning from the New Zealand XI's win over England - the Firebirds were unable to defend it.

With four runs needed for victory off the the final ball, Auckland's Kyle Mills smoked Jesse Ryder back over his head for six to seal a dramatic four-wicket win.

Mills was also the only bowler to have any real success with 4-43 and he embraced batting partner Donovan Grobbelaar before returning to the dressing room to belt out the team song.

While Mills delivered the killer punch, Auckland captain Gareth Hopkins had softened Wellington up with a series of jabs and body blows.

The diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman paced the chase perfectly with 117 off 98 balls as he consistently knocked the ball into gaps with sensible cricket shots and ran hard.

Unfortunately for Wellington it overshadowed a fine knock by young all-rounder Harry Boam, whose 98 not out off 71 balls was his highest one-day score.

"We knew how good a wicket it was but we definitely thought we had enough runs on the board," said Boam, who understandably had mixed emotions afterwards.

"It was nice to be the person to sort of stand up with the bat in this game. A couple of guys from their team played outstandingly and you've got to give credit to them.

"It's just unfortunate that we haven't got over the line in the last two but no doubt if we keep doing the right things, then that will change and we'll win the next tight one, hopefully. There's plenty to look forward to, there's only three games gone and we can still end up making the playoffs if we play well from here."

Next up is a trip to Invercargill to play Otago on Wednesday.

The Firebirds' attack should be given a timely boost with the return of Gillespie and Patel, but batsman Stephen Murdoch is in doubt after retiring hurt with a quad strain yesterday.

Elsewhere, George Worker and Ryan McCone starred in Canterbury's 67-run win over Central Districts in Nelson.

Worker carried his bat for 129 not out as Canterbury posted 280-4 batting first and left-armer McCone then took 5-38 as CD were bowled out with eight overs left.

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And leaders Northern Districts made it three from three by beating Otago by 42 runs in Invercargill.

There was no one standout performance but everyone chipped in as ND notched up 249-7 before dismissing Otago with four overs remaining.

- Stuff

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