Firebirds claim the Plunket Shield's first victory

Wellington Firebirds 310 (M Pollard 65, J Franklin 61, L Woodcock 56*) and 293 Central Stags 313-5 declared (B Smith 133, C Cachopa 54 and B Arnel 4-89) and 289  

Result: Firebirds won by five wickets

The Wellington Firebirds have claimed the first outright victory in this season’s Plunket Shield as they chased down 310 in 61 overs on day four after a sporting declaration from defending champions the Central Stags.

Firebirds captain James Franklin put today’s victory down to a strong series of partnerships after Brent Arnel (below) and Mark Gillespie had done the damage with the ball earlier in the match.

“We definitely approached the target in a positive manner but knew we weren’t going to win the match in those first few overs. We had to set a nice base early on and then we managed to keep ahead of the game to claim a hard-fought win.”

The partnership of 91 runs between Michael Pollard and Franklin for the third wicket (after Stephen Murdoch retired hurt) and the 65 runs added when Luke Woodcock joined his captain at the wicket were the backbone of the victory.

The Stags had resumed on day four at 170-3 and Ben Smith (below) continued the charge finishing on 133 not out when the declaration was made just after lunch. His previous highest First Class score was 68.


Arnel was the best of the home bowlers taking another four wickets to match his first innings efforts. Franklin felt Arnel was the pick of his bowlers but also praised Jeetan Patel’s contribution to the match with bat and ball especially building pressure into the wind. Patel was rewarded with his 400th First Class wicket when he dismissed Will Young today.

The Firebirds now have a few days break before they commence their HRV Twenty20 campaign on 19 November, while the Stags start their short form campaign on Saturday after their first match was abandoned.  

Central Stags 170-3 (B Smith 70, C Cachopa 54 and B Arnel 3-37) and 289   
Wellington Firebirds 293 (M Papps 62, S Murdoch 62, J Patel 62 and D Bracewell 4-60, T Nethula 4-61) after day three.

The Central Stags will look to set the Wellington Firebirds a challenging target tomorrow morning after quickly wrapping up the Firebirds innings today and then charging to 170-3.

Doug Bracewell and Tarun Nethula led the charge for the Stags as they limited the Firebirds to just 144 more runs at the Hawkins Basin Reserve today after the home side looked relatively comfortable at 149-2 overnight.

Nethula, who finished with four wickets for 61 runs, was incredibly consistent into the wind and asked questions of the batsmen with every over. His partner in crime Bracewell (4-60) ran in with his usual aggression and captured the key wickets of Stephen Murdoch (62), before he could get going again today, and captain James Franklin for a duck.

The only resistance from the home side came from Jeetan Patel who also reached 62 and Andy McKay (35). Their 76-run partnership for the ninth wicket at least gave the home side a reasonable target to bowl at.

In comparison, the Stags opened well and batted at a reasonably good clip to finish the day at 170-3. Ben Smith, who was promoted to the opener’s role this season, remains on 70 and looks to be the backbone of Central’s attempt to set a winning target.

Early in the Stags innings Brent Arnel got Jamie How lbw and then claimed a couple of late wickets - Carl Cachopa, just after reaching his half century, and Nethula for one.

Wellington Firebirds 149-2 (M Papps 62, S Murdoch 59*) Central Stags 289 (W Young 78, K Noema-Barnett 55 and M Gillespie 6-77, B Arnel 4-77) after day two.

A six-wicket bag from BLACKCAP Mark Gillespie and some solid batting has put the Wellington Firebirds in a strong position after day two of their Plunket Shield clash with the Devon Hotel Central Stags.

For the second day in a row rain delayed the start of play until the early afternoon at the Hawkins Basin Reserve in Wellington but Gillespie (above) took every opportunity when play finally did commence.  After some initial defiance from Doug Bracewell and Kruger van Wyk, Gillespie wrapped up the final four wickets within a 10 over spell allowing the Stags to add only 81 runs to their overnight total.

Van Wyk, Bracewell and the last man to go Tarun Nethula all went to catches off Gillespie while he got Ben Wheeler lbw to grab his 18th five-wicket haul in First Class cricket. He finished with figures of six for 77.

In reply the home side reached 149-2 at stumps with Michael Papps (62) and Stephen Murdoch (59*) steering the ship in the right direction.

Bracewell and Nethula took a wicket each, both through lbw shouts, before bad light brought an early end to the day’s play.

Central Stags 208-6 (W Young 78, K Noema Barnett 55 and B Arnel 4-61) after day one.

The Devon Hotel Central Stags recovered from the loss of three early wickets to end the first day of their Plunket Shield match with the Wellington Firebirds at 208 for six.

Rain at Wellington’s Hawkins Basin Reserve meant the match didn’t start until mid-afternoon but the home side made the most of those early overs on a slightly moist track.  BLACKCAP Mark Gillespie bowled Ben Smith with the second ball of the day before Brent Arnel chipped in with the next two cheap wickets.

Arnel had Carl Cachopa lbw and then clean bowled Jamie How (celebrating below) to have the defending champions struggling at 43 for two.

Arnel, who challenged the batsmen all day with a good line and length and a little bit of movement, ended the day with four wickets as he broke up the successful fourth wicket partnership of 137 runs between Kieran Noema-Barnett and Will Young.

Young went first caught behind off Arnel after his knock of 78 had resurrected the Stags’ innings. His fellow saviour went two overs later caught by Gillespie off Arnel for 55.

Gillespie collected his second wicket of the day to leave the Stags at 208 for six off the 60 overs that were played today. Arnel finished with four for 61 off his 20 overs.

The forecast for tomorrow’s second day looks much better.

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