The Auckland Aces bounced back from defeat against the Central Stags to trump ousted defending champion Northern Brave by 44 runs at Eden Park this evening – and locked in direct entry to the men's Dream11 Super Smash Grand Final.
No rival can now catch the Aces on 28 points which means the Aces will now have a week to prepare to face the winner of the Dream11 Super Smash Elimination Final – which will be either the Wellington Firebirds, Canterbury Kings or Central Stags: be watching Monday's match at the Cello Basin Reserve between the Firebirds and Kings to learn who goes through.
Sent in, the Aces' top six batters were all in an explosive mood today as they pasted 181/4 on the tins in their 20 overs.
George Worker slammed 33 off 22 balls, Sean Solia a quick 21 off 13, Cole Briggs 24 off 23, captain Robbie O'Donnell 46 off 33, Cam Fletcher an unbeaten 24* off 15 and Will O'Donnell an unbeaten 24* off just 14 balls.
Aside from opener Katene Clarke's 32 off 27, Northern Brave petered out in their second to last game of the season, leading wicket-taker in the league Danru Ferns (3/27 taking him to 18 wickets from eight starts) continuing his strong summer, and showman spinner Louis Delport picking up 3/29.
But it was big left-arm swing bowler Ben Lister who provided the star turn, yorking Flynn McGregor-Sumpter and finishing with a miserly 1/9 off his four overs, but also pulling off a fine, leaping catch to end heavy hitter Clarke's stay, and give Ryan Harrison (1/8) his maiden Dream11 Super Smash wicket in the process.
Both the Dream11 Super Smash Grand and Elimination Finals venues will be formally confirmed by NZC. Wellington Blaze has already won direct entry to the women's Grand Final, with the men's and women's deciders to be played at the same venue.