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Ford Trophy | Bracewell’s all-round show pushes Wellington to the top, Bacon gives Otago their second win

On a big domestic Monday in New Zealand cricket, two Ford Trophy games took place on January 03rd. Both the matches were played at the same time on different venues. The game at Wellington was actually the reverse lege of the New Year’s game between Wellington Firebirds and Auckland Aces. 

While the New Year’s game at the Basin Reserve was won by Aces, Firebirds made a comeback in the game on Monday and won it by five wickets. With this win, they also established their position at the top of the points table. 

Batting first after winning the toss, Auckland couldn’t quite get going as they lost last game’s hero George Worker in the sixth over and Martin Guptill walked off after picking up a calf strain. Mark Chapman, the other centurion from the last game was also removed cheaply by Nathan Smith. 

William Somerville and Sean Solia were the only two batters that could put some resistance from Auckland. However, both were removed by Michael Bracewell before they could get too dangerous and as a result, Auckland could get up to only 207-9. 

Chasing that, Wellington had the worst possible start as they lost attacking opener Finn Allen off the very first ball of the innings. But Jakob Bhula who joined Luke Georgeson built a  69 runs stand for the second wicket. There was another 40 run partnership between Georgeson and Troy Johnson before both of them got out in space of just one run to send Wellington in all sorts of problems at 110-4. 

But Nathan Smith and Bracewell joined hands to build a 50 run stand and get the team from the capital closer to the target. Even as Bracewell got out on 30 off 40 balls, Smith carried on and built an unbeaten and match-winning stand of 50 runs with Jamie Gibson. Smith remained unbeaten on 47 while Gibson remained on 22. 

Otago bowlers bamboozle Canterbury

In another game at the Mainpower Oval in Rangiora, Canterbury, the home team was drubbed by Otago Volts. The Otago team batting first could score only 258-7 even as the top three got starts. But because they failed to convert those starts, it was the 44 off 41 balls from wicket-keeper batter Max Chu, combined with tailender Ben Lockrose’s 18 off just 17 balls that got them past 250. 

Defending that, Matthew Bacon was at his best with the ball, picking up four wickets to restrict the Canterbury side to a meagre 205, getting them all out in only the 44th over and thus winning the game by 53 runs eventually.

For the home team, Leo Carter and Henry Shipley did score fifties and had a 64 runs stand together for the sixth wicket. But once Carter was gone, Shipley didn’t find much support and got out as the last wicket. Apart from Bacon, Lockrose picked up three wickets as well. 

At the end of the 9th match in the league, Wellington has 12 points from four games with three wins to its kitty while Otago with two wins are second and Canterbury with one win and a washout have six points.

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Watch: Ashraful replies to Bangladesh selector after being termed ‘traitor & fixer’ on Live TV

Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful was branded as a traitor and match-fixer on Live TV by current Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief selector Minhazul Abedin Nannu. Replying to that Ashraful said that he was really hurt by the comments from his former teammate. Speaking on Facebook Live, Ashraful said, “I gave an interview to Jamuna TV and talked about selection panel. I spoke only about the post of the chief selector and did not name anybody. However, I heard on the same channel Live that Nannu Bhai ( Minhazul Abedin Nannu) started his argument by naming me and calling me a traitor and match-fixer. I felt very sad about the whole incident." Watch Ashraful's Facebook Live video here In the whole 19 minutes Live video, Ashraful, who has played 261 matches for Bangladesh in his 12-year long career, came to a halt in 2013 after him being found guilty of breaching the code of ethics in the Bangladesh Premier League, went on to defend his statement. He also said that he has the utmost respect for Nannu under whom he made his Dhaka Premier League debut 22 years ago. However, after his five-year ban ended, Ashraful made a comeback in domestic cricket and has been playing continuously for Barishal Division and East Zone. Nannu had said, “No good advice could be expected from the players who were suspended for match-fixing due to treason”. “Ashraful was just saying that the selectors would be there from one World Cup to the another. So will Bangladesh only play T20 World Cup or will it play the 50 overs World Cup? Or play Test cricket? So will there be separate selectors for T20, ODI and Test?” he had asked further. Ashraful in his first interview with Jamuna TV, because of which this whole episode developed, had said, “Those who are on the selection panel – we are supposed to taste the benefits of their talents within 3-4 years. However, if the same person continues to do the same thing for 11 years, we will be stuck in one place.” Nannu has remained on his post even after his tenure having lapsed already.