The Central Stags have claimed the 2012-13 Plunket Shield in an enthralling final day of the First-Class competition.
The Stags drew their match with the Northern Knights at Saxton Oval in Nelson on day four - a result which saw them competition victors by ten points. However, had the Otago Volts triumphed over the Wellington Firebirds as had looked likely earlier in the day, the Stags would have required a victory.
The Knights proved to be a tough team to overcome for the Stags, who had been on their way to an easy victory when they had the visitors 109 for four in the second innings. On the final day though, veteran James Marshall spoiled the home side’s plans with an unbeaten 156 to set the Stags a target of 285 to win.
Alongside Corey Anderson (89) Marshall put on 155 for the fifth wicket, followed by another handy 98 run stand with 20 year-old Ish Sodhi for the ninth wicket. The Knights then declared at 435 for nine and had the Stags 116 for two before both teams agreed to end play after the Volts loss confirmed the Shield’s new owners.
The Volts chances came to an end when they were dismissed for 145 on the final day at Hawkins Basin Reserve, handing the Firebirds a 54 run victory.
Mark Gillespie (4-50) and Jeetan Patel (3-52) combined for seven wickets in the second innings, going a long way to ruining the Volts title aspirations. Ili Tugaga also picked up a couple of crucial wickets, while Aaron Redmond was run out for five in the seventh over.
Jimmy Neesham top-scored with 49 for the Volts, while Michael Bracewell was the other batsman of note with 45. However their efforts were in vain, as the Firebirds wrapped up the victory in 41.2 overs.
In the other match of the last round, the Canterbury Wizards beat the Auckland Aces by nine wickets to claim the points on day three at Hagley Oval in Christchurch and avoid the wooden spoon.
The Aces were dismissed for totals of 173 and 170, while the Wizards made 302 in the first innings before easing to 42 for one in the second to end the match.