The Auckland Aces today secured themselves a spot in the Ford Trophy Final next Sunday, after they triumphed over the Canterbury Wizards this afternoon in the 1 v 2 Playoff at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
A blistering 118 off 81 balls from Colin Munro led the Aces to 314 for nine from their 50 overs. They then then backed that up with a solid bowling effort to restrict the Wizards to 186 and claim a 128 run win.
The loss of early wickets when chasing such an imposing total immediately put the Wizards on the back foot. Rob Nicol (45) was the only one of the top five to make it to double digits, as Kyle Mills, Chris Martin and Michael Bates combined to rip through the top-order.
Shanan Stewart came in and kept things respectable with a hard fought 71 off 75. Cole McConchie also stuck around and produced a handy 30, but in the end the Wizards were found well short and were dismissed after 43.4 overs.
Nearly all the Aces bowlers got in on the act, but it was 38 year-old Chris Martin who boasted the best-figures with five for 21 off 7.4 overs.
Earlier, a sublime century from Colin Munro had pushed the Aces past 300. Six sixes and nine fours highlighted the explosive innings, which was well supported by a number of cameos from his team mates.
Gareth Hopkins (41), Craig Cachopa (44) and Donovan Grobbelaar (44) all made solid contributions and can now look forward to playing in the final next week.
The Wizards will get another chance to meet the Aces in the Ford Trophy Final, playing off against the the Wellington Firebirds, who beat the SKYCITY Northern Knights in the 3 v 4 Minor-Preliminary Final.
Jeetan Patel produced figures of four for 21 from ten overs to play a major role in dismissing the Knights for just 140 after 36.1 overs. Tipene Friday (two for 34) and Harry Boam (two for 26) also snared a couple, as the Firebirds bowled themselves to near certain victory. Openers Anton Devcich (46) and Daniel Flynn (44) were the only batsmen of note for the Knights.
The Firebirds batsmen were far more impressive, with just two wickets falling as they blasted themselves through to the next stage. Luke Ronchi crunched 76 off 59 deliveries at the top of the order, while Grant Elliot (24*) and Jesse Ryder (23*) finished things off in style.
It was their second convincing victory over the Knights in four days and successfully booked them a spot in the Major-Preliminary Final against the Wizards on Wednesday.