All images: MBUTCHER

100 up for Central, Wellington first-class cricket

Video Highlights

ROUND FOUR OF EIGHT

CENTRAL STAGS lost to WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS by 68 runs

Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North

14-17 November, 2022

SCORES

Toss: Central Stags who bowled

First innings bonus points:

Central Stags 5

Wellington Firebirds 6

Total points this round: Central Stags 5, Wellington Firebirds 18

Selected Milestones

100th first-class match between Central Stags and Wellington Firebirds

Liam Dudding: Maiden first-class five-wicket bag

Tom Blundell: 13th first-class century

Tom Blundell: 5000 first-class runs

Logan van Beek: 7th & 8th five-wicket bag; career best match analysis

Nick Kelly: 3rd first-class century (first for Wellington Firebirds)

All images: MBUTCHER

DAY FOUR

Logan van Beek's career best match analysis put the Wellington Firebirds' Plunket Shield back on track as he claimed the winning wicket with just minutes to spare.

The Central Stags had found themselves nine down shortly before lunch - with a thunderstorm clinging to the horizon at Fitzherbert Park.

The hosts were down to their last tailend pair, after having made a good start to the pressure session with Will Young's 14th first-class century and a solid Doug Bracewell holding the fort until a good nut from van Beek saw him depart on 43.

Van Beek carried on to a match-winning 6-80 with support from Michael Snedden (3-50), the allrounder finishing with a match analysis of 11-153.

The Plunket Shield now takes a break for The Ford Trophy and the Dream11 Super Smash, with the Stags set to host the Wellington Firebirds in Palmerston North in all three formats this season.

The Plunket Shield will resume with the final four rounds in late February, when the Stags will look to bounce back from their first defeat of the summer. On the stroke of lunch, the rainclouds burst: there was no great escape this time for the Stags.

DAY THREE

Nick Kelly's aggressive first Plunket Shield century for the Wellington Firebirds (he already had two for his previous side, the Otago Volts) helped the visitors reach 269 in their second innings, parked cars in danger as Kelly and Logan van Beek peppered the short square boundary.

It had been just the partnership the Firebirds had needed after losing Tom Blundell for 10 runs, with Doug Bracewell striking again just two balls later to remove Peter Younghusband as well.

A sharp runout throw from Brad Schmulian, finished off rather dramatically by Dane Cleaver, had kept Tim Robinson's stay short and, at 142/6, the Stags' hopes of restricting their opponents would have been high.

But after Kelly's 271 minutes in command, they were left with a somewhat heavier target of 317, with four full sessions remaining.

The Stags got off to a stuttery start, losing four quick, cheap wickets as van Beek and Michael Snedden each made two big early breakthroughs.

Young opening batsman Curtis Heaphy had the misfortune to suffer a pair in his first match at his home ground in Palmerston North, and he was quickly joined by Brad Schmulian - coming off a double century in the previous game.

Snedden got the prize wickets of Dane Cleaver and Tom Bruce and the Firebirds' tail feathers were up.

However, opener Will Young steadied the ship in the last session with an unbeaten 90* to breathe hope back into the Central Stags' dugout.

Showing all his temperament and experience, Young broke his lean trot to share a 103-run fifth-wicket partnership with Josh Clarkson (37) who was finally trapped by van Beek when just two balls remained in the day.

The Firebirds ended the day with the upper hand, needing just five wickets on the last day for a win or to stop the unbeaten Stags from getting a further 162 runs.

DAY TWO

A classic 'moving day' battle is looming on Day Three after an arm-wrestle of a second day at sultry, humid Fitzherbert Park.

It wasn't just the balmy Palmy weather that gave the Firebirds cause to enjoy their first away match, out of the Basin's chilly southerly at last.

Having had the Stags three down in a hurry on the previous evening, the Firebirds attack kept adding big cheap wickets to their kit bag.

Tom Bruce, the most prolific runscorer of 2022, was caught for 25 off a jubilant Logan van Beek at 52/4. Then Brad Schmulian, fresh off his second double century, fell to Adam Leonard a few overs later on 22.

Josh Clarkson (32) got  a good start in his first bat of the season, batting for almost two hours with Doug Bracewell (above) who lifted the Stags out of a pressure situation with his confident knock of 78, spread over three hours.

The allrounder's rich experience showed and he thumped a straight six to bring up his fifty in style.

After Clarkson's dismissal, Ajaz Patel provided another handy cameo in support (27).

However, van Beek landed an important blow for his team when he then removed the dangerous late order swashbuckler Brett Randell cheaply, at 185/8.

Bracewell was still there and helped his side push positively past 200 for a bonus point, but there was still a lot of work to do to haul in Wellington's 262 and only two wickets now in hand.

Iain McPeake got the big wicket late in the middle session but van Beek got the five-wicket bag as he wrapped up the tail on 215 at tea, for figures of 5-73 in his first game back.

The Stags trailed by 47 runs on the first innings, but Bracewell's efforts had largely got them out of a tight spot.

Three Firebirds wickets fell in the balmy last session of the day, Nick Kelly (23*) and Tim Robinson (15*) set to resume at 106/3, an overall lead of 153. Delicately poised, as they say.

DAY ONE

After home captain Tom Bruce won the toss and put the Firebirds in, BLACKCAP Tom Blundell continued his scintillating early season form, posting his 13th first-class century in Palmerston North against the Central Stags.

Blundell's 105 propped up Wellington's total of 262 whilst Stags and Hawke's Bay seamer Liam Dudding - making his first appearance of the season as a professionally contracted player - took his maiden first-class five-wicket bag for the hosts with 5-65.

By stumps, the Stags were reeling in reply at 23/3, still trailing by 239, after allrounder Logan van Beek struck twice in the space of two balls to remove both Manawatu hometown batsmen, Curtis Heaphy and Dane Cleaver, and with Will Young again making an early exit.

With Thanks To

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