Andrew Ellis smashed his sixth first-class century. Photosport

Canterbury powers to eight-wicket win


Canterbury claimed an eight-wicket win over the SKYCITY Northern Knights to stay in touch at the top of the Plunket Shield ladder.

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Northern required a mammoth batting effort to stave off defeat on the final day at Seddon and, although they got some solid contributions, it wasn’t enough to hold off Canterbury.

Resuming at 237/6 with a lead of nine runs, the Knights initially looked comfortable against the Canterbury spinners, overnight batsmen Bharat Popli and Scott Kuggeleijn carrying on with their strong partnership.

The partnership reached 89 before the second new ball paid dividends, with Hamish Bennett getting Popli to inside edge a delivery through to wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher for an excellent 94.

Kuggeleijn’s impressive season with the bat continued as he brought up an untroubled 50, but he departed in the same fashion as Popli – Andrew Ellis being the man to claim the scalp, reducing the Knights to 299/8.

From there it was merely a question of when, rather than if, Canterbury would win.

Ish Sodhi looked settled in reaching 25, but much to his annoyance he picked out the man on the mid-wicket boundary, and Canterbury soon wrapped up the innings for 316 – leaving a chase of 89 runs for victory.

It was a target they reached for the loss of two wickets. Michael Davidson made 26 before being dismissed by the lively Tony Goodin, while Leo Carter holed out to sub fielder Elliott Santner – young brother of Mitchell – for 17.

Peter Fulton (22) and Chad Bowes (20) saw them safely home, and kept them in the mix with the Mondiale Auckland Aces and Wellington Firebirds as the Plunket Shield frontrunners.

Canterbury will also be left ruing their match last week against the Devon Hotel Central Stags, when rain fell with Canterbury requiring just one more wicket, denying them of a further 12 points which would have helped immensely in their chase for the Plunket Shield title.


Stumps score: SKYCITY Northern Knights 237/6 in the second innings (Anton Devcich 42, Bharat Popli 71 not out, Scott Kuggeleijn 27 not out) leading by nine runs. Earllier: Canterbury 485 in 132.1 overs (Todd Astle 46, Cameron Fletcher 81, Scott Kuggeleijn 4-133, Ish Sodhi 5-167)

The Northern Knights require a Herculean batting effort from their tail order to avoid defeat against Canterbury tomorrow in the Plunket Shield, brought to you by Budget Rental.

The hosts will resume at 237/6 tomorrow, with a lead of just nine runs after Canterbury made inroads into their top order on day three.

Canterbury began the day at 409/7, and added a significant buffer to their lead through an 81 from former Knights wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher.

Scott Kuggeleijn ended four wickets to move to 33 for the season – a big lead on the Plunket Shield wicket-taking ladder. One of the bowlers in the mix behind him, Ish Sodhi, backed up his seven-wicket display last week with 5-167 as Canterbury was finally dismissed for 485 – a lead of 228.

Requiring their top order to fire, Northern found themselves in early trouble as openers Dean Brownlie (8) and Daniel Flynn (16) both fell, before Joe Carter (26) was dismissed by a superb diving catch from Todd Astle in the slips to reduce the hosts to 51/3.

Anton Devcich entertained with a boundary-laden 42 before he lost his middle stump to Astle, and Daryl Mitchell couldn’t reach double figures as an early finish loomed.

Defiant through it all, however, was Bharat Popli, the Bay Of Plenty batsman continuing his strong season, and backing up his 55 in the first innings.

The number five took 25 balls to get off the mark, but rarely looked troubled in a cool innings, easing his way through to 71 not out at stumps.  

Interestingly, the Knights have their two best batsmen this season at the crease, with Kuggeleijn holding the second best average in 2015/16, and also looking assured in reaching 27 by the end of play.

The pair have added 57 for the seventh wicket to extend the match into a fourth day, and will need to continue their partnership tomorrow for Northern to have any hope of avoiding defeat.

Key to Canterbury’s effort will be the spin duo of Astle and Tim Johnston who got through a combined 47 overs today, with Astle bowling 27 overs unchanged to finish the day.

With seamers Andy Ellis, Hamish Bennett and Logan Van Beek all picking up scalps as well in the second innings, Canterbury will be confident in the abilities of their bowling stocks to wrap up the innings and give themselves an easy chase for victory.


Stumps score: Canterbury 409/7 (Michael Davidson 36, Ken McClure career best 96, Andy Ellis 143, Todd Astle 46, Cameron Fletcher 36 not out; Scott Kuggeleijn 3-109, Ish Sodhi 3-139) leads the SKYCITY Northern Knights by 152 runs

A punishing partnership has put Canterbury into a dominant position against the SKYCITY Northern Knights two days into  their Plunket Shield clash.

Andrew Ellis and Ken McClure added a superb 235 for the fifth wicket, helping Canterbury bounce back from a poor first session to take control of the contest.

Having bowled out the Knights for 257 yesterday, Canterbury began the day at 56/0 in pristine conditions at Seddon Park.

They soon found themselves in trouble, though, Scott Kuggeleijn dismissing Leo Carter and Peter Fulton – both caught at second slip by Dean Brownlie – before Tony Goodin sent Michael Davidson back to the pavilion as well.

It looked like it might not be Canterbury’s day when allrounder Chad Bowes was dismissed in bizarre circumstances, reducing the visitors to 77/4.

Bowes viciously pulled a short Ish Sodhi delivery, but his powerful stroke cannoned into the body of Joe Carter, fielding under the helmet at short leg.

The ball ballooned into the air, Bharat Popli claiming the catch to see Bowes depart, and the Knights celebrate – bar Carter, who needed a few minutes to recover from the body blow which earned his team a valuable wicket.

However, 21-year-old McClure and Ellis took over, bashing Canterbury out of trouble with a powerful partnership.

Ken McClure made his first-class career best

The pair spent 210 minutes at the crease as Northern’s bowlers struggled to create chances, Ellis proving particularly brutal.

He crushed 13 fours and eight sixes in a blazing 143, taking 22 from a Sodhi over and regularly sending spectators searching for balls smashed out of the ground.

Just as the massive partnership was heading to record territories, Sodhi found his revenge. He got McClure snared by a rapidly back-pedalling Goodin, before having Ellis caught behind on the second attempt by Tim Seifert.

McClure fell four runs short of a debut century in a composed, classy innings as Canterbury finished the day at 409/7 – a lead of 152.

The Knights grabbed a consolation through Kuggeleijn – who increased his sizeable lead atop the Plunket Shield wicket-taking leaderboard by dismissing Todd Astle, just one ball before the 110 over bonus point cut-off. As a result, Northern snared a third bowling point.

However, that might be all the points they get, with the hosts set to require a lengthy time at the crease to avoid defeat.


Stumps score: Canterbury 56/0. Earlier: SKYCITY Northern Knights 257 all out in 69 overs (Dean Brownlie 46, Bharat Popli 55, Anton Devcich 32, Daryl Mitchell 84; Todd Astle 3-89) at Seddon Park, Hamilton on 20 February 2016

Canterbury holds the early advantage after day one of their Plunket Shield clash with the Northern Knights at Seddon Park.

After sending the Knights into bat, the Canterbury bowlers engineered a collapse which eventually saw the hosts dismissed for 257, before Canterbury steadily played their way through to 56/0 at stumps.

Their edge could have been much more significant, though, if not for a record tenth wicket stand between Daryl Mitchell and Tony Goodin, who frustrated Canterbury by adding 80 for the final wicket.

The early hours of the contest were emphatically Northern’s.

Sent in on a green wicket, ND’s top order made a solid fist of seeing off the new ball.

Dean Brownlie miraculously avoided what would have been a calamitous run out to post 46, while Bharat Popli added another half century to the books with a well-played 55.

Form horse Bharat Popli

With Anton Devcich aggressively reverse sweeping to strong effect, the Knights were set up for a solid first innings score at 154/3.

Canterbury’s bowlers had other ideas, however, engineering a batting collapse.

First the established pair of Devcich and Popli departed, before four wickets remarkably fell for the cost of just two runs.

Hamish Bennett started the slide, having Tim Seifert caught in the slips, and Scott Kuggeleijn clean bowled, before Ish Sodhi was trapped lbw by Todd Astle. When Jimmy Baker was run out after tea, the Knights had fallen from 175/5 to 177/9 and were in danger of being routed.

Daryl Mitchell is proving a valuable number six

Thankfully for the home support, Mitchell stepped up, blasting 84 from just 77 balls. The 24-year-old hit eight fours and five sixes, and smartly played the field to protect Goodin from the majority of the strike.

The pair broke the Northern Districts record for the highest tenth wicket partnership against Canterbury, with their 80-run stand surpassing the 63 added by James Marshall and Brent Arnel in the 2009/10 Shield season.

It took a moment of brilliance to dismiss Mitchell, with Andy Ellis taking a superb one-handed grab on the boundary, juggling the ball while managing to stay inside the ropes to claim a classic catch.

Ellis also made an impact with the ball, taking 2-51 – the same figures as Bennett, while Astle finished with 3-89.

In response, Canterbury openers Leo Carter and Michael Davidson were solid in defence, starting extremely slowly before finding the boundary later on as they safely navigated 23 overs before stumps.

The Knights had two big appeals turned down by the umpires as Carter reached 26 and Davidson 29, well set to continue on a pitch which should offer more assistance to the batsmen on day two.

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