The Otago Volts and Canterbury Wizards have both come within touching distance of victory in a captivating draw at University Oval in Dunedin.
Set 235 for victory, the Volts were perched unpredictably at 203 for seven at day’s end. They finished just 32 runs away from winning, while the Wizards needed only three more wickets themselves.
Earlier on, the Wizards had held all the cards when they resumed the day at 234 for five with a lead of 216.
The momentum however changed when centurion Peter Fulton (108) was caught, having added just two runs to his overnight score. They lost three more wickets in the space of 11 runs, including the very bizarre dismissal of Will Williams.
The debutant fast-bowler joined part of an exclusive club to be given out for ‘handled ball’, having palmed the ball away from the stumps when he under-edged a delivery from Jacob Duffy.
He became the fourth recorded player in New Zealand First-Class to have fallen in the fashion and the first to do so in twenty years – a memorable first game indeed.
It also brought an end to the Wizards’ innings as they declared at 254 for nine with a lead of 234.
It left a fascinating run-chase for the Volts to consider, who had 68 overs to complete the pursuit. It was however a deteriorating pitch and the Wizards too would have held high hopes of prospering.
At 100 for two after 36.5 overs things were looking positive for the Volts, who made it clear they backed themselves to make up the needed ground in the finals overs.
Whatever advantage they held was soon lost though, with the dismissal of Aaron Redmond (61) somewhat stalling their chase. Neil Broom remained and was involved in a number of small partnerships as the Volts’ edged closer.
Needing 75 off 19 overs with five wickets in hand, the home side were honing in on their target, but boundaries were elusive and the required-run-rate continued to elevate.
The Wizards then looked to have an opportunity of their own when they took the two crucial wickets of Derek de Boorder (7) and Broom (49) in the space of eight runs - they were now within striking distance.
In the end though neither of the two teams could complete the task and a stalemate was declared.
Ben McCord was outstanding for the Wizards with the ball and claimed figures of three for 35 from 10 overs. Cole McConchie also contributed with two for 38 from 20.
The result sees the Volts leap to the top of the Plunket Shield table on 29 points, while Canterbury, who have played one less game, are in fifth on 10 points.
Twin tons for Fulton
Peter Fulton has put the Canterbury Wizards in a strong position heading in to day four of their Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts at University Oval in Dunedin.
In testing conditions, the veteran batsman played a wonderful captain’s knock to bring up his second century of the match and lead his side to 234 for five at day’s end. Importantly it also gave the Wizards a handy 216 run lead, making them favourites to come away with the points tomorrow.
Trailing by 18 runs at the start of the day, things were precariously balanced for the Wizards. Despite tough pitch conditions, they showed incredible resilience and gave away very little to the Volts’ attack.
At 77 without loss, George Worker became the first to succumb on 28 when Ian Butler snuck through his defences in the 40th over. A string of small and steady partnerships would follow, but one man remained at the heart of them all.
Fulton showed all of his experience and patience in an innings which has so far lasted a whopping 388 minutes (6 hours, 28 minutes). A potentially match saving effort from the 33 year-old.
It also resulted in him becoming the third player this season to bring up back-to-back tons in the same match,* having made 102 on day one. He is currently sitting on 106 not out, with 11 fours and one six the highlight of his 270 ball marathon to date.
With Fulton occupying one end the Volts’ were forced to focus on his partners, but while they made occasional break-throughs, it was tough going.
Ian Butler and Mark Craig picked up a couple each, while Jimmy Neesham grabbed the wicket of Shanan Stewart. They now face an uphill battle to dismiss the Wizards early enough tomorrow morning to give themselves time to complete their pursuit.
Canterbury on the other hand will be thinking hard about the right time to declare. They’ll back their bowlers to have a good crack at the Volts’ batting line-up on a pitch which is expected to deteriorate.
A very intriguing fourth and final day awaits us.
*Jesse Ryder and Aaron Redmond are the two others to have brought up twin tons this season.
Little separating southern rivals
The Otago Volts' lower-order provided some late resistance to claim a small first innings lead over the Canterbury Wizards on day two of their Plunket Shield match.
The Volts clawed back from a poor start with the bat to finish 272 all out and gain an 18 run advantage over the 254 the Wizard’s posted yesterday.
Incredibly the home side didn’t have anyone surpass 50, but built their total on four players reaching the 40s.
Only one of those scores came from the first five batsmen, as a young and exciting Wizards’ bowling attack put the heat on the Volts top-order.
Aaron Redmond (15) was the first to go when Willie Lonsdale had him caught in the 14th over. His opening partner Hamish Rutherford top-scored with 46, but failed to push on and was part of a three wicket collapse for just three runs.
The further losses of Derek de-Boorder and Darren Broom reduced the home side to 134 for six and all of a sudden the Wizards’ total was beginning to look a long way off.
Jimmy Neesham made a quick 40, before succumbing lbw to Lonsdale in the 64th over. The visitors had their tails up and looked a good chance of claiming some type of lead.
But as they’ve already shown this season, the Volt’s lower-order is more than capable of digging their heels in and they proved their worth once more.
Craig (40) and Butler (41) put on a very beneficial 59 for the eighth wicket, to bring their side to within 21 of the Wizards’ total.
Following Craig’s departure, Butler continued to accumulate and aided by Jacob Duffy (12) took the Volts to an unlikely first-innings lead.
Despite the late surge, the Wizards’ bowling attack was impressive and bowled superbly well to put consistent pressure on the opposition’s batsmen.
Spinner Tim Johnston led the wicket tally with figures of three for 88, while Ben McCord and Willie Lonsdale also played their part in dismantling the Volts’ top-order with two wickets apiece.
With less than 20 separating the two sides, an intriguing day three looms as both teams look to jostle for prime position.
Collapse hurts Wizards
Despite a top-class century from Peter Fulton, the Canterbury Wizards were all out 254 in the first innings of their Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts.
The Wizards got off a strong start at University Oval in Dunedin, but were crippled by a middle-order collapse and were subsequently dismissed in the 96th over.
The Volts in reply managed to see out the final over of the day and will resume tomorrow at seven without loss.
It was however the home side who were feeling the heat early on.
A 148 run second wicket partnership between Peter Fulton and Shanan Stewart had the Wizards cruising at 150 for one. The pair continued to accumulate and after 224 minutes at the crease Fulton’s efforts in particular were rewarded with his tenth First-Class century.
It was a great captain’s knock which featured 18 boundaries and came at a handy clip (off 166 balls).
Unfortunately for the Wizards though he was out shortly after reaching the landmark, leaving the Wizards in the still comfortable position of 176 for two.
The Volts though sniffed blood and launched a very successful attack.
Jacob Duffy and Mark Craig combined to grab the next four wickets for just 39 runs and reduced the Wizards to 220 for six. Stewart was amongst the carnage, falling for 76 in the 77th over.
It only got marginally better for the batting side, with 22 from Cole McConchie seeing them just pass the 250 mark.
Once again 18 year-old Duffy impressed for the Volts and picked up three important wickets in his 13 overs for 35 runs. Craig too was effective with three wickets for 28 from his 19.3 overs.