Draw keeps Aces hopes alive

Auckland Aces maintained their hopes of qualification for the State Championship final with first-innings points from their draw with Canterbury Wizards at Eden Park Outer Oval.

Half-centuries by Gareth Hopkins (83) and Rob Nicol (73) led the Aces to 261 for seven in their second innings on tea on the final day.

Canterbury bowler Leighton Burtt finished the match with career best figures of 10 for 184 after four more in the Aces’ second innings.

The hosts declared during the break, and Canterbury returned to the crease, earning 38 for two when bad light ended the contest.

Andy McKay took two wickets, while Johann Myburgh also retired hurt with a foot injury.

Former Wizard Tim McIntosh’s double hundred in the Auckland first innings dictated the contest.

The Aces made 469 in total, with Canterbury replying with 435, led by Shanan Stewart’s century, 96 by Iain Robertson and 89 by Myburgh.

Third-placed Auckland must now score victory at the Basin Reserve over leaders Wellington Firebirds to secure a place in the final.

Canterbury travels to Otago next week, primarily seeking to ensure a place alongside Wellington in the end-of-season clash.

First-innings points from the match, starting Sunday at Dunedin’s University Oval, should be enough for the Wizards to progress, but an outright victory could deny Wellington home advantage.

The Aces, six points adrift of the second-placed Wizards, must rely on a Volts win or draw to secure their place.


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