The Canterbury Wizards made it two Plunket Shield victories in a row on Sunday, as they triumphed over the Northern Knights by six wickets at Hagley Oval.
The Knights ended up making 364 in their second innings, giving the home side a target of 159 runs to win. While losing four wickets, the outcome was never really in doubt, with 64 from Dean Brownlie leading the way.
Openers Rob Nicol and Tom Latham went early in pursuit, but Brownlie quickly settled things down and made handy partnerships with both Shanan Stewart (19) and Henry Nicholls (34*).
With a further 28 runs required, Brownlie himself departed, but he left the task in capable hands, with Nicholls and Brad Cachopa (22*) comfortably seeing out the final runs.
The victory sees the Wizards take a ten point lead at the top of the Plunket Shield points table, while the Knights fall to fourth.
Earlier, the last wicket pair pf Jono Boult and James Baker had done their best to extend the Knights lead, holding on with a 53 run stand. Unfortunately Boult’s brave innings came to an end just three short of his first half-century.
Matt Henry finished as the best bowler from the match, picking up overall figures of seven for 153 runs.
Between a first-innings century from Andrew Ellis and a four wicket haul from Matt Henry in the Northern Knights second-innings, the Canterbury Wizards head into day four of their Plunket Shield match with a great opportunity for victory.
The Knight’s first-innings total of 176 was exceeded by 206 runs, when Ellis continued his run of good form with the bat to post 142 and lift the Wizards to 382. The Knights fought hard on day three with the bat, getting through to 312 for nine before stumps and now hold a slender 106 run advantage.
Daryl Mitchell was the anchor behind the innings, reaching his second First Class century with 104. Between he and Joe Carter, the pair put on 170 for the third wicket and ensured that the Wizards would have to bat again.
Unfortunately their dismissals led a to a full scale collapse form the Knights, with Scott Kuggeleijn (28) the only one of the middle and lower order to get a start. The final pairing of Jono Boult (11*) and James Baker (3*) remain at the crease and will be hoping to extend their side’s lead as much as possible tomorrow.
Matt Henry has been the pick of the Wizard’s bowlers so far, collecting figures of four for 87 from 31 overs. Hamish Bennett has also been effective with three scalps for 53 runs.
Earlier, Ellis has scored his second First-Class centuries in as many innings to put the Wizards in full command. Batting at six, the senior allrounder dug his side out of a 141 for six hole with two key partnerships involving Logan van Beek (50) and Matt Henry (36).
After 223 balls Ellis’s innings finally came to an end, but the damage had been done. The lead set the Knights an enormous task in the second innings and the Wizards will feel confident heading into the final day that they can pick up their second Plunket Shield victory in a row.
The local side were dominant with the ball, dismissing the Knights for just 176 after 55 overs. However, the visitors bowling attack was just as effective during the latter parts of the day, reducing the Wizards to 131 for five at stumps.
Rob Nicol was trapped lbw by Scott Kuggeleijn off the first ball of the Wizards pursuit, while co-opener Tom Latham (3) and number three Shanan Stewart (8) were soon following him back to the shed.
A much needed 72 run partnership for the fourth wicket between Dean Brownlie (68) and Henry Nicholls (28) stopped the rot for the Wizards, before Nicholls was trapped in front by Daryl Mitchell.
Having brought up his half-century, Brownlie became the last player of the day to fall, but his innings got the Wizards within 45 runs of the Knights total. They’ll have an opportunity on day two to create a handy lead when Brad Cachopa (28*) and Andrew Ellis (9*) resume at the crease. Earlier, the Knights only had one partnership worth more than 50 runs and were bundled out for less than 200.
Captain Daniel Flynn brought up his 19th First Class century when he made exactly 50, but he would be the only one from his side to reach the milestone. Anton Devcich was the next best with 48, but the Knights never managed to seize control of the innings and lost wickets in clumps.
Credit has to be given to the Wizards bowling attack though, with all five who were used finding success. Matt Henry had three wickets, while part-timer Stewart also had three scalps to his name.