Wellington umpire Cory Black makes his first-class debut | PHOTOSPORT

Almighty Johnson

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ROUND SIX

NORTHERN DISTRICTS drew with the WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS

Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

18-21 March 2021

SCORES

Toss: ND who batted

First innings bonus points (completed)

BATTING: Northern Districts 1, Wellington Firebirds 2

BOWLING: Wellington Firebirds 4, Northern Districts 2

Total points this round: ND 3, Firebirds 6

SELECTED MILESTONES

Heny Cooper 2000 first-class runs (Northern Districts)

Troy Johnson maiden first-class century (Wellington Firebirds)

Joe Carter 6th first-class century (Northern Districts)

Jakob Bhula highest first-class score (prev 18)

Cory Black - first-class debut (umpire)

Wellington umpire Cory Black receives a gift from NZC match referee Kevin Earl to mark his first match | PHOTOSPORT

DAY FOUR

Michael Bracewell picked up a further wicket to finish with 4-133 on the placid Bay Oval pitch - including two Lauchie Johns stumpings to end the knocks of both Scott Kuggeleijn (51, after a 128-run stand with his captain Joe Carter) and BJ Watling.

Carter meanwhile proved obstinate as he carried on for an unbeaten century, supported by Brett Hampton (63 not out off just 444 balls) as they galloped through a 92*-run sixth wicket stand ahead of Carter's declaration at 379/5.

ND still had a hope of keeping theit Plunket Shield campaign alive - realistically the only side left that could prevent Canterbury from running away from the title, after dominant Canterbury had beaten the Stags in Rangiora.

Canterbury sat on the edge of their dressing room seats watching the livestream as the Firebirds lost four cheap wickets - Wagner claiming both openers before tea, only youngster Jakob Bhula getting traction with a career-best 55 before he, too, departed.

But with time ticking on in the afternoon, it was too little too late for ND when the last hour was taken and, when the draw became official, Canterbury rejoiced as ND's last chance disappeared.

DAY THREE

Northern Districts took a 30-run lead into the final day at Bay Oval, but had just six second innings wickets in hand after three big wickets from off-spinner Michael Bracewell before the close of day three.

ND had been off to a strong start in the second dig before Bracewell stopped Henry Cooper on 73 at 133/2, Cooper having shared a 72-run stand with fellow opener Jeet Raval (40).

Bracewell snaffled Tim Seifert just a couple of overs later, both victims trapped, before having BJ Watling caught behind for just 11 to change the complexion of the innings at 159/4.

Earlier in the day, the Firebirds extended their first innings lead before lunch, while Neil Wagner sat on figures of 4-48.

Troy Johnson | PHOTOSPORT

Troy Johnson's fine summer continued as he posted his maiden first-class century, reaching 114 in more than six hours in the middle before being run out at 345/6, during the morning session.

Wellington carried on to a total of 395 all out, a first innings lead of 149 while Wagner had to settle for 4-58 as Ish Sodhi got in the action through the afternoon, crucially stopping Peter Younghusband, batting at seven, on 72. Younghusband had shared in a 127-run stand with centurion Johnson.

DAY TWO

A combined effort from the Firebirds' batting line-up saw the visitors into a first-innings lead by the end of the second day.

Troy Johnson was unbeaten on 79* in an unbroken 64* stand with Peter Younghusband for the sixth wicket, having already put on 68 with Jamie Gibson and 53 with captain Michael Bracewell as the capital side threaded partnerships together.

Earlier, Tom Blundell and Luke Georgeson had got the side off on the right foot, putting on 51 for the opening wicket - the Firebirds' middle order then settling in to keep on accruing.

Neil Wagner had meanwhile toiled away at his home ground for key breakthroughs, trapping Blundell on 30; elated as Bracewell shouldered arms only to be bowled on 31, and clean bowling Gibson (46) just shy of a half century.

DAY ONE

A Ben Sears four-fa stopped Northern Districts just short of collecting a second batting bonus after the hosts had elected to bat at on a humid day at Bay Oval.

Every point mattered to ND are looking to improve their position, sitting second on the table but still 32 points adrift of runaway leaders Canterbury heading into the sixth of the eight rounds that will decide the championship.

Opening batsman Jeet Raval made a good start, but lost two partnerships after fledgling partnerships in the opening session, before he, too, departed before lunch after eking out 42 in two hours at the crease.

Raval was undone by a piece of fielding brilliance from a swooping Logan van Beek off Jamie Gibson, one of two catches for the classy fieldsman in the session with Tim Seifert also departing to a sharp grab off Sears.

Lanky rocket-launcher Sears (4-55) had come on in the 13th over and picked up Seifert with his second of the day, and would come back in the middle session to remove both the incumbents at lunch, ND captain Joe Carter and BLACKCAP BJ Watling.

ND had put just over 100 runs on the board in the morning session with the late summer sun streaming down, but the second session was a tough one for the hosts with just 77 further runs added, and moreover, finding themselves eight down by tea with the tail exposed.

Ish Sodhi reached a gallant 33 and pushed his side part the 200-mark before he became Sears' fourth victim, the young Wellington quick denied a five-wicket bag when Gibson claimed his namesake Zak Gibson in the 81st over to have ND all out for 246.

By stumps the Firebirds were 31 without loss in reply.

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