Bell Tolls For Shield Leaders

Captain Matthew Bell led the way as Wellington turned the State Shield form book on its head with a six-wicket defeat of Central Districts here today.

His team coming off two losses, opener Bell struck a career-best 124 to carry them to a comfortable victory over the competition leaders, who had won their two previous matches.

The hosts cruised to Central's challening 263 for six in the 47th over, with Chris Nevin's boundary seeing them home at 267 for four.

Victory was based around Bell's fourth one-day hundred, which passed his previous best score of 121 not out.

It came from 141 balls and featured 17 fours, ending when his team were just one run short of victory.

The top order has proved to be a weakness for Wellington this season, with Bell himself having contributed 35 from his previous four innings.

That was alleviated today, with promoted opener Graham Napier blasting 36 off 21 balls -- including 17 off Ewen Thompson's third over -- to set the hosts on course.

There were other useful knocks from James Franklin, 33, BJ Crook, 29 and Nevin, 27 not out.

Central's innings was based around an unbeaten 88 from dropped New Zealand batsman Jamie How.

His 105-ball knock was the only innings of substance, with five of his teammates falling for scores between 28 and 33.

Ian O'Brien and Luke Woodcock both starred with the ball for Wellington, taking three scalps each.

New Zealand paceman O'Brien bowled dangerous openers Peter Ingram and George Worker while spinner Woodcock trapped danger man Mathew Sinclair lbw for 32.

Central Districts remain on top of the standings, one point clear of second-placed Northern Districts while Wellington improve from fifth to fourth, behind Otago.

NZPA

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