An unbeaten century from Brad Patton helped the State Central Stags to an outright win and the lead in State Championship at McLean Park in Napier today.
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Central completed victory over the State Otago Volts and moved to the top of the points table on 24 with three outright wins from as many matches, comfortably ahead of second-placed Wellington who are on 17.
Patton's 110 not out saw Central through to an eight-wicket win after the match had been evenly poised at the end of the third day.
The 29-year-old lefthander, in just his fourth first-class match, notched up his second century, his 110 coming off 168 balls and including 11 fours and one six.
Otago, sent in to bat, were all out for 357 in their first innings before dismissing Central for 378.
Resuming their second innings this morning on 211 for six, Otago could only add another 70 runs for the final four wickets to give Central a tempting target of 261 in a minimum of 73 overs.
Otago wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder resumed on 43 not out and finished unbeaten on 73, tantalisingly close to his highest first-class score of 74.
But wickets fell regularly at the other end, and once Ian Butler was removed by Jacob Oram for 27 with the total on 244, Doug Bracewell - son of former international Brendon - mopped up the tail with minimum fuss.
Bracewell's useful medium pace collected three wickets for 51 off 10.4 overs as the last three wickets fell for 37 runs, leaving Otago with a total they were always going to struggle to defend.
Central openers George Worker and Peter Ingram put on 59 for the first wicket before Worker departed, bowled by Butler for 28.
Central captain Mathew Sinclair came to the wicket with the score on 120 after Ingram was caught behind by de Boorder on 40, and settled in with Patton to secure the outright win.
Fittingly, the winning runs came from Patton's bat as he slashed an emphatic four off the bowling of Neil Broom. Sinclair, who scored 108 in the first innings, was 52 not out.