Williamson unbowed as Firebirds suffer heavy defeat

Kane Williamson simply refused to stay out of the action as he spearheaded an overwhelming Plunket Shield defeat of the Wellington Firebirds.

The Northern Knights batsman continued his masterclass on the third day at Lincoln today, finishing unbeaten on 284 when skipper Brad Wilson finally declared their first innings closed at 608 for nine.

Facing a hefty first innings deficit of 446 runs, Wellington were left with no chance to win the match and having to bat for more than five sessions to save it.

Even the latter prospect proved outside their reach as they were dismissed for 216, to lose by an innings and 230 runs, after Williamson struck some telling blows with the ball to take three for 44 with his blossoming offspin.

Williamson continued to hog most of the attention again when he resumed on 252 with the Knights on an utterly commanding 540 for six.

Wilson decided to press on for a period and while three wickets fell at the other end the Firebirds had no answer to Williamson’s technique and temperament as he ended 16 runs shy of becoming the first Northern Districts batsman to post a first-class triple century.

The 21-year-old’s stickability was beyond question as he occupied the crease for eight minutes short of 10 hours, during which he faced 400 deliveries and hit 31 fours and one six.

The Knights’ total was the second highest in their history, behind only the 726 amassed against the Canterbury Wizards at Rangiora in 2009/10.

When Wilson finally pulled the pin the Firebirds bowlers would have been excused had they rushed up to shake his hand. Four of them conceded more than 100 runs, with seamer Mark Gillespie taking one for 123 off 29 overs, Andy McKay picking up two lower order wickets today to end with three for 148 off 33, offspinner Jeetan Patel sending down 41 overs for his one for 118 and Luke Woodcock finishing with two for 101 off 19.

Williamson was not finished tormenting the Firebirds yet though. He came back to haunt them with his flighted offspinners and snared the important wicket of opener Michael Papps when the Canterbury convert was well established on 55 after nearly three hours of concentrated effort.

He also broke a 70-run stand between James Franklin and Luke Woodcock when left-hander Franklin, on 47, sent back a caught and bowled chance that Williamson declined to refuse and he quickly pulled off a repeat to remove Joe Austin-Smellie for five.

Woodcock cut a lonely figure at the end, finishing unbeaten on 38 as the Knights set about celebrating a decisive victory.

Another spinner to enjoy himself was left-armer Daniel Vettori, who took three for 28 off 21 demanding overs to tie up an end as Williamson benefited at the other end.

Day 2: Williamson pitches his tent at Lincoln

Kane Williamson has ticked off another mighty milestone in his still brief first-class career.

The 21-year-old international struck his maiden double century to enable his Northern Knights team to take a firm grip on their Plunket Shield fixture against the Wellington Firebirds at Lincoln.

Williamson’s record 252 not out occupied 548 minutes and guided the Knights to an authoritative 540 for six in their first innings at stumps on the second day, leaving the Firebirds confronting a deficit of 378 runs.

It represents the highest score by a Northern Districts batsman, bettering Daniel Flynn’s 241 against Otago last summer, and paved the way for the fourth highest team total in the association’s history.

Williamson was an immovable object for the tiring Firebirds bowlers after he resumed this morning on 76, alongside Brad Wilson on 70 and the Knights at 156 for one, just seven runs away from overhauling the Firebirds’ inadequate 162.

The northerners quickly ticked off their first assignment then Williamson and Wilson set about ramming home their team’s dominant position.

They did just that with a second wicket partnership of 177 runs which ended only once Wilson’s stay was terminated at 85, containing 12 fours and taking 227 minutes, when seamer Mark Gillespie induced an edge behind.

But they could not budge Williamson, who converted his seventh first-class century into an innings of truly significant proportions, regularly piercing the field and keeping the ball along the carpet as he collected 28 fours and one six from 359 balls faced.

He was ably assisted by James Marshall, who made 62 in a stand of 119 for the third wicket, then former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, who chipped in with 48 batting at number five.

Day 1: Southee on song for Knights

Comeback kid Tim Southee looks on target to return to the Black Caps for the upcoming test series against Australia.

The Northern Knights seam bowler turned heads in their Plunket Shield match against the Wellington Firebirds at Lincoln today.

In just his second match since a knee injury forced him to miss the recent tour to Zimbabwe, Southee captured seven for 37 as the Firebirds stumbled their way to 162 in their first innings on the opening day of the four-day fixture.

The Knights batsmen showed there were no terrors in the pitch by confidently advancing to 156 for one by stumps, with Kane Williamson set to resume tomorrow on 76 alongside Brad Wilson on 70 as they look to extend a second wicket partnership which has so far realised 137 runs.

Southee was into his work early after the Knights chose to field first, piercing Josh Brodie’s defence to bowl the opener for four with the last ball of the third over.

Canterbury convert Michael Papps departed for the same score in almost identical fashion three deliveries later as left-armer Trent Boult got in on the action.

Boult then delivered a huge blow when he knocked over international Jesse Ryder’s stumps before the left-hander had even got off the mark, leaving the Firebirds a touch twitchy at 12 for three.

The best partnership of the innings, a stand of 101 by skipper Grant Elliott and Stephen Murdoch, followed as the side from the capital fought back doggedly.
but once they were parted, when Elliott fell to Brent Arnel for 48, the Firebirds’ resistance faltered again as Southee returned to bowl Murdoch for a three-hour 57 before running through the lower order.

The last seven wickets tumbled for 49 runs and Southee ended with his second best haul at this level, the sixth five-wicket return of his career and his fourth for the Knights.

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