ROUND SIX | DAY THREE
Yet another hundred for ND's super Cooper; the Volts declare behind in Dunedin; and the Wellington Firebirds are moving in for the kill in Auckland to have the chasing teams on edge.
FIREBIRDS FLYING HIGH
Career-best bowling figures for captain and supposedly part-time spinner Michael Bracewell put the black and yellow icing on the cake as the Firebirds manouevred themselves into a winning position at Colin Maiden Park.
The Firebirds stand to take themselves to 83 points at the head of the table assuming they wrap up the last few Aces wickets standing in their way tomorrow morning — after the Aces ended the penultimate day’s play at 151 for eight in their second dig, still trailing overall by 30 runs.
Very little has gone to plan for the hosts since they won the toss on day one.
After having dismissed the Firebirds for 360 just in time for today’s lunch, they were left with a still hefty first-innings deficit of 181 — made harder when they promptly found themselves two down inside the first three overs of their second turn at bat, Jeet Raval and Glenn Phillips both early victims of a rampant Logan van Beek (3-14 off 12).
It was the beginning of a long afternoon battling for survival as the run rate slowed to a dribble. The Aces were fighting to hold the Firebirds’ points table lead to a minimum — for their own chances’ sake, having now slipped to interim third.
Will O’Donnell batted for almost two hours for his 17 before Bracewell (3-39) claimed him as the first of his three victims; Finn Allen carrying on with the elder O’Donnell to reach 66 in 146 minutes.
Allen’s was the only substantial score of the innings, brought to an end when he edged Ben Sears (2-22) down leg to the keeper.
Bracewell then snared both Robbie O’Donnell and Ben Horne in his spree before Danru Ferns also followed in swift succession, while Sean Solia — occupying the crease for more than an hour and a half for just 12 runs, desperately tried to save his side from defeat.
Bracewell gets Horne! Good catch from Bhula. The Aces are six down and still 83 behind. Bracewell has 3-33.— Wellington Firebirds (@wgtnfirebirds) March 12, 2020
ACES 98/6 (45.4) | LIVE SCORING https://t.co/VDD5InpzOy#WEAREWELLINGTONâšªï¸🟡âš«ï¸#PlunketShield pic.twitter.com/8EmSaKs6ZD
It was a heavy burden for Solia who knew his side had precious little batting to come: the Firebirds were closing in on a significant victory, the Aces trying to stave off an innings defeat. With eight overs left in the day, Solia became Sears’ second wicket, bringing Ben Lister together with Louis Delport and Jamie Brown the last man padded up.
Ben Sears finds Sean Solia's outside edge and he's gone for 12. Aces still trail by 50 runs. Firebirds are two wickets away! 👍— Wellington Firebirds (@wgtnfirebirds) March 12, 2020
ACES 132/8 (69) | LIVE SCORING https://t.co/VDD5InpzOy#WEAREWELLINGTONâšªï¸🟡âš«ï¸#PlunketShield pic.twitter.com/c8u7GXtQRN
Bonus points (completed): Wellington Firebirds 6, Auckland Aces 2
SUPER COOPER DOES IT AGAIN
A five-wicket bag to Jimmy Baker at his home ground and Henry Cooper’s third first-class century this season were the highlights as hosts Northern Districts set Canterbury a challenging last day chase at Seddon Park.
Three quick wickets bring @CanterburyCrick innings to an end; James Baker taking the last wicket to complete figures of 5-59 👏🙌— Northern Districts (@ndcricket) March 11, 2020
We take a first innings lead of 51 🏏
243 🔴 Live scorecard | https://t.co/tsxJUwMDCY#ndtogether #PlunketShield #cricketnation
Canterbury went to stumps at 23 for no loss needing a further 331 runs on the final day tomorrow after ND declared their second innings at 302 for five, for an overall lead of 353.
Cooper reached 130 to post his second Plunket Shield century in as many matches, and the fifth of his career. He shared a century stand at the top with Tim Seifert (51) and, after Canterbury’s Theo van Woerkom (4-76) fought back with a quick trio of wickets, formed a second century stand with BJ Watling for the fourth.
Watling would be left unbeaten on 71 when captain Joe Carter called them in, leaving four overs to have a crack at the Canterbury openers who survived the penultimate day.
Bonus points (completed): ND 6, Canterbury 5
VOLTS FRUSTRATE STAGS
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A relentless Ajaz Patel bowled a marathon 25-over spell in Dunedin as the sun finally popped out over University of Otago Oval — for the first two sessions, at least — but the host’s wickets wouldn’t fall fast enough for the Stags’ liking in the weather-shortened contest.
Patel finished with 4-87 when the Volts declared at tea, his highlights having included a diving return catch to dismiss Michael Rippon and, earlier, another good dive by Will Young at slip that dismissed opener Anaru Kitchen on 73*.
The @OtagoVolts have declared 7 down at tea so we have taken 5 out of the 8 bonus points from the first innings. AJAZ PATEL 4-87 after an impressive 25-over spellhttps://t.co/bU7j6doavK#PlunketShield | #LoveTheStags 🦌 pic.twitter.com/5DlwWs8CJt— Central Stags 🏏 (@CentralStags) March 12, 2020
Kitchen had fashioned an 86-stand for the second with Dean Foxcroft (40) that ate up valuable time from the visitors’ perspective — Foxcroft was fortunate to be there after having offered an early chance.
Eventually the Stags picked up their third bowling bonus point courtesy of Doug Bracewell’s first wicket of the season — looking like he’d never been away. However, they were denied the full set when Jacob Duffy declared 31 runs behind.
Mitch Renwick (above) was left unbeaten on 74* against his former side and, with just four sessions left in the match, the pressure now went back on the Stags to up the pace for a shot at a result — no doubt fully aware rivals the Firebirds were screeching ahead in Auckland.
Temperatures plunged as the skies misted over once more in the final session, but an unbroken 92-run stand for the second wicket between captain Greg Hay (32*) and Will Young (61*) lifted the Stags’ spirits. Young had just thumped his third six, off Foxcroft, out of the park — lost ball; when bad light ended play at 112/1 after 25 overs, a lead of 143 to take into the final morning.
Bad light has ended play with WILL YOUNG 61* after just having pumped his third 6 out of the park (ball lost) & GREG HAY 32*. Weâ€™ll resume the last day in Dunedin at 112/1 leading by 143 #PlunketShield | #lovethestags 🦌 pic.twitter.com/QfFS9mEonI— Central Stags 🏏 (@CentralStags) March 12, 2020
Bonus points (completed): Volts 6, Stags 5
Competition Winner: Wellington Firebirds
|1 –||Wellington Firebirds||6||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||15||20||83||5.34|
|4||Logan van Beek||19|