The Canterbury Wizards have pulled off a sensational six wicket victory on day four of their Plunket Shield match against the Wellington Firebirds.
Amidst a number of extraordinary performances, the Wizards chased down 303 in just 59.3 overs to capture an exhilarating victory. Peter Fulton continued his sublime form with yet another century and was the catalyst in the successful run-chase.
Earlier it had been all the Firebirds, as the boys from the capital marched into a dominant position behind a memorable double-century from opener Michael Papps.
Having resumed the day at 145 without loss, Papps and Josh Brodie maintained their control over the Wizards’ bowlers attack by putting on a staggering 211 for the first wicket.
Brodie was the first to fall for 74, which triggered a small collapse as the next three batsmen went for a combined total of 13. That flurry of dismissals included the wicket of Jesse Ryder, but on this occasion he wasn’t the main target.
Papps brought up triple digits off 183 balls in what was a mature display from the 33 year-old. The ex-Cantabrian wasn’t done there though as he continued to pile on the misery on his former team.
After nearly six hours at the crease the opening batsman added another achievement to his already glowing First-Class career by bringing up a double-century. It was highlighted by 19 fours and a six and at 206* is his highest score in domestic cricket.
With a lead of over 300 and only 61 overs left in the day the Firebirds decided to declare at 364 for five after 99.3 overs. It seemed a draw was the most likely outcome, but still gave them an opportunity to try run though the Wizards’ batting line-up.
In hindsight the Firebirds may wish that they had left Papps to pillage a little longer, as the home side bludgeoned their way to the points.
The tone was set early with Fulton producing a string of boundaries and bringing up his 50 off 26 balls. He joined forces with Shanan Stewart and together the pair took their side past the 150 mark.
Fulton continued his whirlwind innings and astoundingly brought up his third century in four trips to the crease, with this one coming off just 73 balls. The lanky opener departed shortly after (106) but not before he had got his side to within 128 of victory.
Stewart (57), Dean Brownlie (30) and Brad Cachopa (28) all played their part, but it was young Tom Latham who really got his side across the line with a quick-fire 53 from 50 deliveries.
It capped off a rapid innings, with the Wizard triumphing with nine balls and six wickets to spare.
It was a remarkable effort to get a result from a match which was played over just three days. The win lifts the Wizards to third, while the Firebirds sit in fifth.
Day two: All square at Rangiora
The Plunket Shield match between the Canterbury Wizards and Wellington Firebirds looks set to finish a draw, with neither team flinching on day three at Mainpower Oval, Rangiora.
Having lost the previous day to rain, the Wizards encouraged a result by declaring at 301 for eight with a lead of 62. The Firebirds though quickly made up the deficit and finished the day at 135 without loss.
Michael Papps starred for the visitors and will resume tomorrow just five runs away from his 22nd First-Class century. The right-handed opener has produced 10 boundaries in his innings so far, which has come off 172 balls.
Alongside him Josh Brodie has shown a gritty 39 from 123 balls and in doing so helped his side to an extremely handy lead of 73.
It’s been a clinical display from the opening pair, as the Firebirds could have been left susceptible had the Wizards penetrated early.
Earlier, Dean Brownlie had maintained his good run of form with a beautifully crafted 133.
Resuming the day at 91 for two, he and captain Peter Fulton continued to eat into the Firebirds total with a hefty 182 run third wicket partnership.
Fulton, looking for his third consecutive century, was eventually dismissed by Ryder in the 60th over for 79. His departure began somewhat of a downward trend for the Wizards, though they would still finish with a first-innings lead.
Soon after Brownlie brought up his sixth First-Class century off 166 balls. Following the landmark he and a number of team mates went in quick succession to leave the Wizards 301 for eight after 90.2 overs.
Despite giving up a slender lead the Firebirds’ attack did well to restrict the Wizards, particularly strike bowler Mark Gillespie. The 33 year-old took four wickets in 24.2 overs for 72 runs.
It will take a dramatic collapse from either side tomorrow to gain an outright victory, with the wash out on day two making it hard to separate the teams.
Day two abandoned at Rangiora
Day two of the Plunket Shield match between the Canterbury Wizards and Wellington Firebirds has been abandoned without a ball being bowled due to persistent showers.
There was frustration all round at Mainpower Oval in Rangiora, as the players were forced to wait for the weather to clear up. It wasn’t forthcoming and the day was declared a washout shortly after lunch.
It followed what had been an interesting day one. The Firebirds were held to 239 by the Wizards, before the home side finished the day 91 for two in reply.
Dean Brownlie on 53 and Peter Fulton on 32 are the two batsmen waiting to return to the crease and will be hopeful to do so tomorrow morning.
Weather permitting, play will begin at 10:00am.
Ellis’s six-wicket haul give Wizards the advantage
Andrew Ellis snapped six wickets to help the Canterbury Wizards bowl out the Wellington Firebirds for 239 and gain the upper hand on day one of the Plunket Shield fixture in Rangiora.
However, the home side didn’t have it all their own way with a remarkable century stand for the final wicket, including a sparkling half-century from Mark Gillespie, rescuing them from a seemingly hopeless position.
The Canterbury batsmen were required to face 35 overs and managed 91 for two, leaving them just 148 runs behind with eight wickets in hand.
Ellis ran through the top Wellington top and middle order after Edward Nuttall picked up opener Josh Brodie for 20.
Wellington weren’t looking too bad at 59 for one but Ellis took three quick wickets to leave the visitors reeling at 83 for five.
His first scalp was former team-mate Michael Papps who made 31 before bowling out Jesse Ryder for a one and finally removing captain Stephen Murdoch for a duck.
The misery was compounded by Willie Lonsdale who cleaned up Luke Woodcock for 18.
Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi steadied momentarily with a 43 runs partnership for the sixth wicket, taking the score through to 125 for five but it was Ellis again who did the damage.
He picked up Elliott for 26, Ronchi for 17 and Harry Boam first ball to complete a remarkable spell of seam bowling and finish with six for 58.
The visitors further reduced to 126 for nine but a remarkable partnership for the last wicket made sure a respectable total was posted.
Number eleven batsman Gillespie chanced his arm and in doing so successfully pounded 77 off 63 deliveries including four sixes and nine boundaries. He was well supported by McKay who struck the team’s second highest score of 33.
Gillespie then removed George Worker for a duck while McKay took the wicket of Shanan Stewart for three.
Peter Fulton (32*) and Dean Brownlie (53*) negotiated the rest of the days play and will resume tomorrow.