Williamson ton secures Knights the points

Kane Williamson scored a masterful 123 not out on day four to ruin Luke Ronchi’s back-to-back centuries and give the Northern Knights a six wicket win over the Firebirds at Karori Park, Wellington.

Ronchi brought up his second century of the match at the start of the day to set the Knights 194 to win. From that point on Williamson took control of the match and brought up the victory in the 48th over.
 
The 22 year-old produced a fantastic display of batting to bring up his 12th First-Class century and almost single-handedly see his side home.

Batting at three, he came to the crease on the second ball of the innings after Brad Wilson was dismissed by Dane Hutchinson. From there Williamson would see another three partners come and go, but remained at the crease and posed a big problem for the Firebirds’ bowling attack.
 
Having smashed nine fours and two sixes, he brought up his century off 118 balls and had the Knights within striking distance. Alongside James Marshall (36*) he saw out the final runs and took his side off the bottom of the Plunket Shield points table.
 
Earlier, Ronchi had continued to fight valiantly to give the Firebirds some hope. He batted superbly to bring up triple digits for the second time in the match and give Wellington a 193 run lead.

His partner for most of it was Scott Kuggeleijn, who once again showed his talents were not limited to bowling with a crucial 83. Between him and Ronchi the pair hit 27 fours and three sixes, in what was 101 run stand for the seventh wicket.
 
Their fourth innings eventually came to an end when they were dismissed for 390 after 98.1 overs.

Ish Sodhi was outstanding for the Stags with the ball and finished the innings with a well-deserved five wicket bag. Tim Southee also claimed two more scalps to add to his five in the first innings.

It was a match dominated by individual brilliance, with Southee, Ronchi, Sodhi and Williamson all sharing the limelight in what was a very entertaining First-Class match.

Day three: Knights smother Firebirds on day three

The Wellington Firebirds are staring at defeat, after they were forced to follow on by the Northern Knights and finished the day with a lead of just seven runs with four wickets in hand.
 
Luke Ronchi battled valiantly at Karori Park against the Knights onslaught, making a scintillating 113 in the first innings and is currently 62 not out in the second.

Having resumed play at 32 for four, the Firebirds lost another couple of cheap wickets, before Ronchi arrived and crunched a fantastic century off 90 balls. He finally fell in the 46th over, but not before he’d slammed a dazzling 13 fours and six sixes.
 
His heroics were supported by a patient 16 from Grant Elliot and 35 from Jeetan Patel, but it was a case of too little too late, as the home side were dismissed for 206 – still 47 runs away from avoiding the follow-on.
 
Tim Southee finished with figures of five for 69 from 15.2 overs, becoming one of a small number of players who have scored a century and claimed a five wicket bag in the same match.

Brent Arnel was also handy with three for 62 from 16.

Having been put back in the Firebirds were soon in trouble again as Papps went for two in the second over.

It didn’t get much better, as Stephen Murdoch and Jesse Ryder both fell cheaply. At 108 for five it looked as if the Knights might not have to bat again.

Luke Woodcock started the recovery with 49, before Ronchi came in and once again played aggressively to hit an unbeaten 62 from 51 balls.

It’s sure to catch the eye of BLACKCAPS selectors, with Ronchi available for New Zealand early next year.

He’ll return to the crease tomorrow morning alongside Scott Kuggeleijn (8*) and attempt to dig Wellington out of a hole at 204 for six.  They may well plan to try and last as long as possible at the crease and play out for the draw.
 
Young spinner Ish Sodhi was the biggest threat with the ball in the second innings and claimed three scalps in his 17 overs for 58 runs. Arnel picked up a couple also, while Southee added one to his first innings tally.

An interesting day four looms….

Day two: Rain ruins day two in Wellington

Fog and rain has seen day two of the Plunket Shield match between the Wellington Firebirds and Northern Knights abandoned at Karori Park in Wellington.

Following on from Tim Southee's miraculous effort yesteerday (read below) things were set for another exciting day, but the players were unable to take the field at any point due to the poor conditions.

The Firebirds will resume tomorrow at 32 for four and still trailing by 371 runs.

Day one: Superb Southee in league of his own

Tim Southee has put in a performance for the history books on day one of the SKYCITY Northern Knights Plunket Shield match against the Wellington Firebirds at Karori Park, Wellington.

The 24 year-old was simply extraordinary, smashing an incredible 156 to take the Knights to 403 for eight declared.  He then savaged the Firebirds reply, with four quick wickets at the end of the day leaving the hosts reeling at 32 for four.

Josh Brodie was the first to depart when he was trapped lbw. Both Michael Papps and Stephen Murdoch followed him back to the shed soon after, with the pair catching edges and the Firebirds struggling at 23 for three.

The biggest blow though came in the seventh over, when Southee broke through the defences of Jesse Ryder to have him bowled for a duck. It was one game-changing player dismissing another and it completed a truly dominant day for the Knights.

Southee, who is on paternity leave away from the BLACKCAPS in South Africa, finished with spectacular figures of four for 16 from five overs.

Amazingly, it was arguably not his most amazing feat of the day.

Following a string of starts from his team mates, Southee walked to the crease with his side wavering at 161 for six. The number eight though single-handedly took the game by force, destroying the Firebirds bowling attack.

After just 88 balls, he brought up his maiden First-Class century which featured a whopping ten fours and five sixes. He wasn’t done their though, adding another eight fours and a six before he was eventually dismissed.

He ended with a score of 156 and took the Knights past 400 before they declared after 87.1 overs.

It was a marvellous spectacle and one that anyone who witnessed it will remember for a long time.
 
The Firebirds now have to concentrate on saving the match as they are still trail by 371 runs. The Knights on the other hand will be looking to ruthlessly extend their position on power.

With form Southee is in, it’s hard to see it going any other way.

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