Stags go top of Plunket Shield

The Central Stags have catapulted to the top of the Plunket Shield points table with an emphatic eight wicket win over the Northern Knights at Harry Barker Reserve in Gisborne.

Resuming the final day at two without loss and needing another 93 to win, the Stags maintained complete control and wrapped up the victory after 20.3 overs.

Jeet Raval backed up his first innings’ score of 73 with an unbeaten 57 and alongside Matthew Sinclair (7*) guided his team to a comfortable victory.

The only two casualties of the day were Jamie How for 20 and Carl Cachopa on 9, who were both captured by Knights’ strike-bowler Brent Arnel. Raval though ensured no miraculous turn-around came about and played freely to bring up his second half-century of the match off 71 balls.

While the batsmen may have had the final word, it was the Stags’ bowling attack who set up the points for the visitors.

Youngsters Ben Wheeler and Adam Milne took eight wickets between them on day three to limit the Knights to 252 all out. Combined with their first-innings total of 183, it gave the home side a lead of just 94 against the Stag’s initial hit out of 341.

It was a comprehensive performance from the Stags, who have won two and lost one in their first three games of the season.

The Knights continue to look for their first outright victory, having lost two and drawn one. They currently sit in fifth on the points table.

Day three:  Young talent put Central on top

The Central Stags require 93 on the final day after their young fast bowlers kept the Northern Knights to 252 at Harry Barker Oval in Gisborne today.

Central were unable to add to their overnight score of 341 but started the day with a 158 run lead after rolling the Northern Knights for 183 on day one.
 
Young 21 year-old Ben Wheeler and 20 year-old Adam Milne were handed the new-ball and combined brilliantly to keep their team on top with eight wickets between them.

Wheeler got the initial breakthroughs, removing Brad Wilson for one and James Marshall for five while Milne knocked over Joseph Yovich for six to have the Knights struggling at 21 for three. 

Carl Cachopa chimed in with the wicket of Corey Anderson for 16 before Milne picked up Adam Wheater for three and Graham Aldridge for 38 while Wheeler had Anton Devcich for 12. 

Ish Sodhi then combined with the last recognised batsman, Daryl Mitchell, to put on 87 runs for the eighth wicket. 

Wheeler split the pair by taking wicket of Sodhi for 50 and his bowling partner Milne had Brent Arnel for two.  The last wicket to fall was Mitchell who batted for over four hours for a brilliant 83.

Both Wheeler and Milne delivered 20 overs taking four for 38 and four for 53 respectively. 

Jamie How (1*) and Jeet Raval (1*) will resume tomorrow on two without loss.

Day 2: Stags build lead

The Central Stags took control on day two of their Plunket Shield match against the Northern Knights, finishing with a substantial 158 run lead at stumps.

Chasing the Knights’ first-innings score of 183, the Stags surpassed that total with five wickets in hand and went on to end the day at 341 for nine.

An unbeaten last wicket stand worth 55 between Ben Smith (64*) and Adam Milne (38*) continues to frustrate the Knights, who will have their work cut out for them to make up the deficit.

Earlier the Stags had resumed the day at 67 for two, but were unconvincing in the early stages of their pursuit as top-order partnerships failed to develop.

Opener Jeet Raval looked good on his way to 73, before falling in the 48th over when he was bowled by young spinner Ish Sodhi.

A number of starts saw the Stags attain a first-innings lead, but the big partnership they desired to assert their dominance was not forth-coming.

Kieran Noema-Barnett (44), Will Young (36) and Tarun Nethula (39) all made contributions, but it was wicket-keeper Ben Smith who truly stood out. The 21 year-old played a steady hand on the way to his fifth First-Class half-century.

It looked as if he would be left stranded when the Stags were 286 for nine, but found an unlikely partner in Adam Milne to further punish the Knights.

The pair led their side past 300 and in doing so gained full control heading into day three.

It was an all-round effort from the Knights’ bowlers, who did well to restrict the Stags’ top-order. James Baker presented the biggest threat and finished with figures of four for 59 from 25 overs.

Having gone off for a period due to rain, play will start slightly earlier tomorrow.

Day one: Stags' bowlers flourish

The Northern Knights were bowled out for 183 on day one of their Plunket Shield match against the Central Stags at Harry Barker Reserve in Gisborne.

The visitors looked to be heading for an even lower score until Adam Wheater scored a much needed 53. In reply the Knights finished the day at 67 for two, with Jeet Raval leading the way on 38 not out.

Both Jamie How (0) and Carl Cachopa (20) fell in the remaining 22 overs to give the Knights some hope. However, with just 116 needed to draw level, the Stags will be hopeful of gaining a big advantage on day two.

Earlier, the Knights had been put in to bat first and struggled from the get-go.

Two quick wickets from young strike-bowler Ben Wheeler had both opening batsmen gone for a combined total of 21. The Knights’ woes were then compounded by losing James Marshall (6) and Daryl Mitchell (7) to Carl Cachopa, leaving them in the dire position of 49 for four.

The middle-order sparked a small recovery, with Wheater and Devcich (33) putting on 62 for the sixth wicket. While handy, it didn’t last as long as the Knights’ needed and wickets continued to tumble.

Brent Arnel (12*) found the boundary with a helpful six at the end of the innings to push his side past 180, but the damage had already been done as the Knights’ were bundled out in the 71st over.

Carl Cachopa was the most effective of the Stags’ bowlers and finished with impressive figures of three for 15 off nine overs. The rest of the wickets were shared evenly amongst the attack.

Day two starts tomorrow at 10:30am, with Raval and Sinclair (8*) back at the crease.

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