A late batting blitz from Ronnie Hira and Robbie O’Donnell has led the Auckland ACES to a stunning last gasp win over the Otago Volts and into the Dream11 Super Smash Grand Final.
The ACES needed 33 off the last two overs at the University of Otago Oval in Dunedin, and got there with a ball to spare courtesy of a remarkable late flurry.
Hira hit 33 off 15 and O'Donnell 27* off 13 to pull off a victory that had looked unlikely only five overs earlier.
The ACES advance to Sunday's decider against the Wellington Firebirds at the Basin Reserve, while the Volts' season has ended within touching distance of the finale.
Craig Cachopa won the toss and sent the Volts in with early success. The dangerous opening pair of Hamish Rutherford (4) and Neil Broom (11) were back in the shed inside the first four overs with breakthroughs to Kyle Jamieson and Will Somerville.
Nick Kelly came to the crease and continued his strong season with 60 off 44 balls, finding good support from Dean Foxcroft (31 off 26). When Kelly was dismissed by Somerville in the 17th over the score was 136-5.
Two balls later Somerville also removed Josh Finnie as he finished with 3-25 from his four overs.
All of the ACES spinners had success with Mark Chapman taking 2-32 and Hira 1-32.
The Volts were stalled at 142-7 with two overs left and heading for a modest total. Then Nathan Smith and captain Jacob Duffy added 32 runs off the final 12 balls to lift the hosts to 174-8 and put some scoreboard pressure on the ACES.
After the loss of Colin Munro (7), Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips built a platform to have the ACES at 49-1 after their powerplay.
The pair continued to prosper and the ACES were in control at 83-1 at the halfway stage.
Michael Rae came back into the attack in the 11th over and swung the match back towards the Volts, to the delight of the home crowd.
First, he had Guptill (43 off 31) LBW before bowling Phillips (27 off 25) via an inside edge in the same over.
At the end of Rae's spell of 3-23, the ACES’ required run-rate had ballooned and they needed 60 off 30 balls.
Hira was the instigator, smashing 33 off 15, before departing at the end of the 19th over, bowled by Duffy, which went for 20.
With 13 needed off the final over, O’Donnell finished the dramatic late surge with a four, a six, a two, and then, with the scores tied, another boundary for the winning runs.