Nathan Smith produced career-best figures on Firebirds debut | PHOTOSPORT

Nathan Smith snares career-best haul on Firebirds debut

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ROUND ONE

WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS beat OTAGO VOLTS by 6 wickets

Cello Basin Reserve, Wellington

23-26 October 2021

VIDEO SCORECARD

Toss: Wellington Firebirds who bowled

TOTAL POINTS this round:

Otago Volts 5, Wellington Firebirds 16

SELECTED MILESTONES

Jake Gibson - first-class debut

Nathan Smith - Wellington Firebirds debut, first-class career best 6-54

Travis Muller - Career best bowling (previously 6-64)

Luke Georgeson - career best batting

DAY FOUR

The Firebirds got their season off to a flier in a fast-moving game in the capital, young Luke Georgeson reaching his first-class career best as he helped chased down 193 for the first outright win of 2021/22.

The 22-year-old opening batsman made 74 and had taken his side to within just 25 points of glory before Michael Rippon put the squeeze on with his spin and frustrated him into a dismissal.

It was left to Tom Blundell to walk the Firebirds home before lunch on the last day for a six-wicket victory against the luckless Volts. Otago now head home for their first home match of the season, starting this Sunday at University of Otago Oval against the Central Stags.

The Firebirds meanwhile await a visit from defending champions Canterbury at the Cello Basin Reserve, starting on the same day.

DAY THREE

The Wellington Firebirds have victory in their sights with just 98 runs required on the final day of Round One Plunket Shield at the Basin to secure a total of 16 points from the match.

Luke Georgeson (50 not out, below) and Troy Johnson (23 not out) will resume at 95 without loss - albeit after opening batsman Rachin Ravindra retired not out on 18* after he was struck a painful blow on the right arm by yesterday's six-wicket man, Travis Muller.

The pain was arguably greater for the Otago Volts earlier in the afternoon, however, when their former team-mate Nathan Smith continued his strong Firebirds debut performance with a standout 6-54 in the second innings to rip the Volts' good start to shreds.

Smith's new career-best haul (previous best: 5-56 for the Volts against ND in 2016/17) came after rain had prevented play for much of the day, the Volts waiting nervously for a resumption at 160/7.

When the teams finally got on the park at 3PM, Smith took all three of the remaining wickets, trapping Michael Rae with a yorker for his sixth and final wicket of the innings to bowl the Volts out for 180. After his 3-60 in the first innings, he walked off with impressive match figures of 9-116 on the lively deck.

Having tweaked a hamstring in the field earlier in the match, Volts strikeman Rae was meanwhile unable to take his place in the bowling attack as the Firebirds went after 193 for the win - with the weather looking more favourable for the final day at the Basin tomorrow.

DAY TWO

Otago Volts paceman Travis Muller was rewarded with a first-class career best haul of 6-52 off just 17.2 overs as the visitors ripped through the Wellington Firebirds in the first innings reply at the Cello Basin Reserve.

His achievement was all the more timely for his team who were a bowler down after they had lost the bowling services of regular strikeman Michael Rae to a hamstring injury earlier in the innings.

Muller's previous best haul was 6-54 for South Africa's Western Province back in 2012/13, and his Volts best had been 5-131 last season against Canterbury.

Hosts the Firebirds had resumed in this fast-paced match well positioned at 91/2 in the morning but, chiefly thanks to Muller's efforts, were gone by lunchtime - the Volts taking a threadbare 12-run lead on the first innings, after having rumbled the locals for 195 in 67.2 overs.

Johnson's 78, and his partnership of 76 with Michael Bracewell for the third wicket, stood out like a beacon for the Firebirds before Muller dismissed both captain Bracewell and BLACKCAP Tom Blundell for a golden duck with consecutive deliveries in the 36th over.

That had Wellington 99/4, and the relentless Muller ultimately tore through the rest of the order for the addition of only a further 96 runs.

However, the Volts threw away a good start of their own to surrender the advantage after tea.

Captain Hamish Rutherford had led the way in the middle session with 77 at the top, striking 12 boundaries in his 38th first-class half century.

He had lost just two partners in the session as the visitors went to tea at 94/2, but a blistering start by Ollie Newton after the break saw Nick Kelly and Anaru Kitchen depart in space of three balls, before Nathan Smith picked up his old colleague Michael Rippon for a three-ball duck in the following over.

Rutherford recombined with Max Chu before Smith struck again eight overs later, at 130/6. The weight fell heavier on Rutherford's shoulders to see out the day, but shortly before bad light ended play he, too, was gone after mistiming Iain McPeake to a delighted Luke Georgeson who took a fine catch in the deep.

The Volts will resume Day 3 with just three wickets in hand, and an overall lead of 155 thanks to Muller's magic and their captain's hard graft at the top.

DAY ONE

When Nathan Smith snared the first wicket of the 2021/22 season at the Cello Basin Reserve this morning, it was at the expense of none other than his former Otago Volts captain Hamish Rutherford who no doubt regretted not playing a shot.

On Wellington Firebirds debut, the elated allrounder took the big wicket with just his second delivery of the morning - and he would pocket three in all before lunch to help reduce the visiting Volts to 83/6 in the first session on the traditionally green, early season wicket in the capital.

A full set of bowling bonus points is almost a given at the venue, and the Firebirds did not let anyone down, rolling the southerners for 207 in 62.1 overs before tea.

Michael Snedden chimed in with 3-48 while Iain McPeake rattled Nick Kelly's wickets early doors with a sharp inswinger as the ball moved and batsmen came and went.

Todd Muller's top score of 30 contributed to a stand of 49 with Max Chu for the seventh wicket amid a gutsy rally from the tail, before Snedden broke the stand. The late runs were just enough to push the Volts to a batting bonus point for getting past 200, but by then the end of the innings was nigh.

By stumps the Firebids were 91/2 in reply, having recovered from losing Luke Georgeson in their first over and Rachin Ravindra who followed him in at 23/3, both openers having been caught behind.

Ravindra had become the Volts' debutant allrounder Jake Gibson's maiden first-class wicket, but the fun stopped there for Gibson as Troy Johnson (52*) dug in with an unbeaten half century to guide the hosts to stumps, trailing by 116 runs with eight in hand.

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