The Auckland Aces have strolled into the Ford Trophy one-day final on the back of an outstanding partnership between new teammates Neal Parlane and Anaru Kitchen.
These two crafted individual career best centuries while piling on 222 for the third wicket to power the Aces to a hefty 337 for three in the preliminary final against the Otago Volts at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland today.
Confronted with such a challenging runchase the Volts were on a hiding to nothing and eventually exited the competition when dismissed for 264 in 45.5 overs.
It leaves the Aucklanders to defend the title they won last year, against the Central Stags in the final at New Plymouth on Sunday.
Today’s 73-run success was built upon innings of 117 from Parlane and 110 not out from Kitchen, who put the Volts attack to the sword in a mammoth stand which took the game away from the visitors.
After openers Jeet Raval and Brad Cachopa got things moving by making 52 and 41 respectively, former Northern Districts and Wellington representative Parlane marked his first one-day appearance for the Aces with his second, and highest, limited overs century from 107 matches.
Kitchen, too, prospered big time to top three figures for the first time in the competition as the Aces shrugged off the disruption caused by three regular team members being unavailable due to international commitments.
So 33-year-old Parlane came in and made an immediate impact, making up for a measured start to score his runs off 94 balls with seven fours and four sixes.
As the partnership blossomed both he and Kitchen traded big hit for big hit, with Kitchen’s unbeaten contribution coming off only 81 deliveries with eight fours and five sixes. Kitchen’s previous best score in 31 one-dayers for the Aces was 69.
When Parlane eventually departed in the 48th over, he and Kitchen had been together for 27 overs and they fell 20 runs shy of Auckland’s record third wicket partnership of 242 scored by Richard Jones and Rob Nicol against Otago two summers ago.
They brought up their collective 200 off 156 balls in 99 minutes to ensure there was nowhere to hide for the Volts bowlers who were reduced to a watching brief.
The only bowler to emerge unscathed was left-arm spinner Nick Beard who returned the meritorious figures of one for 40 off 10 overs.
The Volts’ response began at a merry pace but the regular fall of wickets undermined their cause.
Opener Hamish Rutherford promised something special as he reached 62 off 60 balls before Brad Cachopa hauled in an excellent catch just inside the boundary to leave the visitors 118 for three in the 23rd over.
Ian Butler swung away to hit 35 off 28, Craig Cumming scored 33 off 47 and Darren Broom 48 off 50 but all the while the Aces kept chipping away, with part-time spinner Kitchen underlining his allround value by taking three for 52 off 10 overs to complete a memorable match.