Wellington Firebirds v Otago Volts at Basin Reserve, 30 October-1 November 2017
Points from round two: Firebirds 20, Volts 4
The Wellington Firebirds won by an innings and 43 runs, completing the rites in the morning session.
The innings victory extended the Firebirds' Plunket Shield lead to 40 points after bagging maximum points for the second round on the trot in this season's 10-round competition, the Volts meanwhile suffering their first loss of the season, in interim second place on 21 points.
Hamish Bennett finished with 4-30 from the Volts' short-lived second dig, before Logan van Beek wrapped up the last wickets to roll the Volts for a 142 inside 54 overs.
The Firebirds now head to Hamilton for their first away match of the season, against Northern Districts; while the Otago Volts will play the Auckland Aces at Eden Park Outer Oval in next week's round three. Entry to all Plunket Shield matches is free.
Batting Bonus Points: Wellington Firebirds 4 (maximum achieved); Otago Volts 0 (completed)
Bowling Bonus Points: Otago Volts 4 (maximum achieved); Wellington Firebirds 4 (maximum achieved)
The Firebirds are well placed to continue their scorching start to the first-class season after trumping their southern opponents for first innings honours at the Basin.
The star-packed Volts simply couldn’t get their innings moving as 15 wickets fell on a warm day two, ultimately all out still trailing on the first innings by 185, just halfway there compared to the Firebirds’ effort.
Only Iain McPeake was left wicketless for the hosts as the Firebirds attacked as a unit, Hamish Bennett (3-31) and Logan van Beek (3-33) sharing top honours as they sawed through the middle order together.
Fortunately for the Volts, Neil Wagner and James Duffy had rallied for some tailend resistance and, had it not been for their 43 and unbeaten 32 respectively, things could have been much more humbling for the Volts at 112 for eight.
Following on, the Volts were soon back in trouble in their second go. This time McPeake struck quickly, removing doughty Brad Wilson for single figures. Ollie Newton had already accounted for the Volts’ other opener, Hamish Rutherford, and at 24/3 the visitors would have been feeling distinctly nervous.
Captain Rob Nicol (39) and star allrounder Jimmy Neesham (38) provided a hopeful partnership, but it stopped on 63 and by stumps the Firebirds were well in charge with the Volts teetering on 107 for six, still 78 runs behind.
Batting Bonus Points: Wellington Firebirds 4 (maximum achieved), Otago Volts 0 (in progress)
Bowling Bonus Points: Otago Volts 4 (maximum achieved), Wellington Firebirds 0 (in progress)
• Brad Wilson 100th first-class game
• Luke Woodcock: 128th game for the Wellington Firebirds, a new New Zealand first-class appearances record for a single team
Most fc games for one NZ province. 128 Woodcock W, 127 J Marshall ND, 121 Fulton C, 120 Gray W, 120 Yovich ND, 120 Patel W #PlunketShield— Francis Payne (@FPayne100) October 29, 2017
So… good things do come to those who wait, after all. After having sat padded up for seven hours throughout Michael Papps & Luke Woodcock’s round one epic only to march on and off for a quick duck, this time Firebirds first drop Stephen Murdoch would make he most of his turn at bat on the Basin.
Murdoch’s 12th first-class century was the highlight of the first day against the charged-up Volts, both teams keen to bed in their opening-round success.
Volts captain Rob Nicol had put the Firebirds into bat, fielding a side that featured a last-minute change as Josh Finnie came in for Neil Broom. Neil Wagner picked up an early wicket in Woodcock, who fell to a mint low grab from Brad Wilson in the slips; and Papps’ stay was also a short one on this occasion.
However, Murdoch and captain Michael Bracewell would crunch out a steadying third-wicket stand of 113 before the latter was finally dislodged in the middle session on 43, caught in the deep (eventually) by a juggling Anaru Kitchen.
Meanwhile, 46 of Murdoch's half century had arrived in boundaries as he calmly plotted his way onwards to three figures, which arrived off 158 balls with 14 fours and two sixes.
Murdoch (114) would be undone by spinner Kitchen, this time as the bowler, as a dramatic last over before tea produced two wickets; the hosts suddenly a little more muted heading into the tea break at 243/6.
But that mood dampener didn’t last long, number eight icon Jeetan Patel (64 off 57) and Logan van Beek rustling up an entertaining 71-run stand for the seventh wicket before an irate Neil Wagner bowled the pair of them (Patel having gained some additional support from Ollie Newton’s 34 off 36, batting gamely at nine).
Wagner would eventually stop Newton as well, finishing with 4-80 against the Firebirds’ total of 369.
The Volts were left with four overs in their first dig before stumps, but the late afternoon foray cost the wicket of Hamish Rutherford (caught off a sharp Hamish Bennett short ball) and they headed in at 9/1 overnight.