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ACES back in the pack

ACES back in the pack
ACES v Knights VIDEO scorecard

The Knights have dented the Auckland ACES’ chances of making the Dream11 Super Smash finals, squeaking home to win by three wickets at Eden Park Outer Oval.

Peter Bocock and Scott Kuggeleijn’s measured 31-run stand for the seventh wicket countered the ACES fightback with the ball to ensure the Knights notched their third win of the season. Anurag Verma smashed a six for the winning runs with an over to spare.  

Anton Devcich got the Knights' chase of 171 off to the perfect start with a destructive 51 off 23 balls, featuring seven fours and three sixes. When he was dismissed by Ronnie Hira (3-30) the score was 2-77 after seven and the Knights were well in control.

The Knights remained on target for a comfortable victory until Kyle Jamieson (3-41) removed Daniel Flynn and Daryl Mitchell in successive balls to have the visitors 5-122, still nearly 50 short of their target but with plenty of time.

Brett Hampton went cheaply to make the score 6-134 and the home crowd sensed a grandstand finish.

But it wasn’t to be, with Kuggeleijn and Bocock wrestling momentum back for the Knights and taking them to the brink of victory before Bocock was run out.

The loss leaves the ACES in fourth on 16 points with one match to play. They sit behind the Central Stags and Otago Volts, both on 18 points and the competition leading Wellington Firebirds on 24 points.

The Knights (14 points) remain at the bottom of the ladder and are a long shot in the playoff race. They would need a win with a miraculous boost to their net-run-rate and other results to go their way to grab the third spot in the finals.

Sent in to bat first, Martin Guptill (42 off 29) and Colin Munro (44 off 33) laid the platform for a big score with a 90-run opening stand in good time.

But they fell in quick succession in the 10th and 11th over and the ACES momentum stalled.

Glenn Phillips (22), Mark Chapman (16) and Corey Anderson (20) all got starts but couldn't break the shackles as the Knights fought back in the latter stages with tight overs and regular wickets.

Verma was the pick of the bowlers for the Knights, finishing with 3-35 and playing a key role in restricting the ACES at the death.

The ACES' final match in the round-robin is against the Firebirds at the Basin Reserve on Sunday. The Knights also finish up on Sunday, at Bay Oval against the Canterbury KINGS.

HEARTS clinch home Elimination Final
HEARTS v Spirit VIDEO scorecard

A fluent half-century from WHITE FERN Katie Perkins proved the difference as the Auckland HEARTS secured a home Elimination Final with a 13-run win over the Northern Spirit.

Winning the toss and batting first, Perkins’ unbeaten 70 from 54 guided the HEARTS through to 138-6 at Eden Park's Outer Oval. 

The significant partnership of the innings came between Perkins and Saachi Shahri (28). The pair added 75 for the 3rd wicket to help the home side recover from a poor start where they lost both openers in the first four overs.

Lily Mulivai (2-20) and Lauren Heaps (2-24) were the best of the Spirit bowlers.

In reply, fellow WHITE FERN Bernadine Bezuidenhout kept her side in the hunt all the way, before being dismissed in the 19th over for 51 off 43 balls.

Six down, the Spirit still needed 17 runs off the last over, bowled by Holly Huddleston. It proved to be too many and Huddleston closed down the chase with an excellent over.

Four of the Spirit’s top six batters were run out which stunted the momentum in the chase at key times.

With the win, the HEARTS clinched second spot with a match to play. They are unable to catch runaway leaders, the unbeaten Wellington Blaze.

The Blaze will host the women’s Grand Final next weekend while the HEARTS will face the third-placed team on Thursday.

The Central Hinds and Otago Sparks meet in Dunedin tomorrow in a crucial matchup, where the winner will book a trip to Auckland for the Elimination Final.

To finish their round-robin the HEARTS play the Blaze at the Basin Reserve on Sunday, while the Spirit host the Canterbury MAGICIANS at Bay Oval, also on Sunday.