The Central Stags' dream start to the Plunket Shield cricket championship continued today as they cruised to a six-wicket defeat of the hapless Auckland Aces today.
The last rites were completed by lunch on the final day at Auckland's Colin Maiden Park as the Stags coasted to 189 for four, notching their third outright win in the first three rounds of the competition.
Their maximum 24 points will already look daunting to some teams, including the Aces, who have drawn one match and lost the other two to kick off the 2010/11 summer.
They were outplayed from the outset by the visitors, ceding a 116-run first innings advantage and never really threatening when they fell for an improved 301 in the second innings yesterday.
Left with a day and quarter to reach 186, the Stags resumed at 98 for one and negotiated a small hiccup this morning when they lost overnight batsmen Peter Ingram for 76 and Brad Patton for 46 in quick succession to Gareth Shaw. Mathew Sinclair steadied proceedings in reaching an unbeaten 35.
Victory was set up by unbeaten 115 from Tim Weston in the Stags' first innings while legspinner Tarun Nethula claimed seven wickets for the match and paceman Doug Bracewell six.
Day 3: Stags set for comfortable win
The Central Stags are making light work of what was potentially a tricky run chase as they look set to claim maximum points from their Plunket Shield four-day cricket match against the Auckland Aces at Auckland.
The competition leaders will start the fourth and final day at Colin Maiden Park tomorrow at 98 for one and requiring just another 88 runs to secure their third successive outright victory of the campaign.
Former international opener Peter Ingram has been in no mood to muck around this evening, thrashing an unbeaten 65 from 59 balls, including nine boundaries, with no bowler spared. Brad Patton, playing the perfect foil, will resume with Ingram tomorrow on 24.
The Aces had started the third day at 32 for one in their second dig, still trailing the Stags' first innings of 296 by 84 runs, and they lost three wickets before lunch, including that of Colin de Grandhomme who completed a four-ball pair for the match.
A 129-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Anaru Kitchen, who stroked 13 fours in his 96, and wicketkeeper Brad Cachopa, who added 62, almost got the hosts into a position of parity before former Aces legspinner Tarun Nethula climbed into his work.
He removed Kitchen and three of the tailenders as the Aces were dismissed for 301, a lead of 185 runs, Nethula finishing with innings figures of four for 81 and match figures of seven for 107.
Day 2: Weston guides Stags to strong position
A superb unbeaten century under pressure from Tim Weston not only got the Central Stags out of a spot of bother, but well into the driver's seat after two days of their Plunket Shield four-day cricket match against the Auckland Aces at Auckland.
A mid-innings stutter threatened to halt the visitors' charge toward the Aces' meagre first innings total of 180 as Kieran Noema-Barnett, Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell were all dismissed without scoring, leaving the Stags in trouble at 127 for seven.
Cue a revival led by Weston, who smacked an unbeaten 115 off just 149 balls, just his second hundred from 39 first-class matches.
He was initially supported by Rance, whose 22 helped the Stags edge past the Aces' tally, while legspinner Tarun Nethula (39) and No 11 Mitchell McClenaghan (10) played crucial roles as the visitors posted 296, a lead of 116.
The seamers did the damage for the Aces, with Colin Munro taking four for 36, Michael Bates three for 61 and Andre Adams three for 102.
The hosts had started the day on 133 for five in their first innings but Doug Bracewell struck early for the Stags and Nethula cleaned up the tail as the Aces could only muster another 47 runs.
Bracewell ended with four for 44 from 19 overs, and Nethula three for 26 against his former teammates.
The Aces were 32 for one at stumps in the second dig and with a lot of work to do tomorrow to stave off an outright loss.
Day 1: Stags make the best of short day
If it wasn't rain it was bad light disrupting play as the Plunket Shield four-day cricket match between the Auckland Aces and Central Stags at Auckland got off to an inauspicious start today.
Rain delayed the start and also halted play during the morning session, while bad light brought a premature end to the first day, with the Aces struggling to 133 for five after the Stags won the toss and decided to bowl at Colin Maiden Park.
The Aces' innings was somewhat rescued by a stoic 58-run fifth-wicket partnership between Greg Todd and Brad Cachopa, but, after the players had already been off once for bad light, Todd's three-hour, 125-ball innings ended at 42, just before stumps were finally pulled just before 7pm.
Cachopa has faced 77 balls for his 13 and he has been joined by Colin Munro, who is yet to score.
The Todd-Cachopa partnership was just what the Aces needed after they had slumped to 75 for four with pace bowlers Doug Bracewell, Mitchell McClenaghan and Seth Rance doing the early damage for the Stags, who were only able to get through 58 overs today.
Bracewell has the best figures with two for 27 from 15 overs.