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Tom Blundell of Wellington celebrates his century on day three of the Plunket Shield match against Otago at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Saturday.
Right-arm seam bowler Fraser Sheat and his Canterbury team-mates must be loving life in the Plunket Shield right now.
Fresh from demolishing Northern Districts by an innings and 32 runs with a day and two sessions to spare at Mainpower Oval in Rangiora on Saturday, their third win in as many games, Canterbury have now opened a gap on the rest of the competition.
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Sheat had a pretty good day of it too, as ND simply failed to cope with the Canterbury attack; he secured five wickets for 31 runs and totalled nine wickets for the match. It was his second five-wicket bag for the season, and he has now snared 50 first-class wickets.
At the start of the day Canterbury required seven wickets for victory, with ND trailing by 114 runs with three wickets down.
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It simply proved too big an ask for the northerners and when Scott Kuggeleijn was dismissed for 16 off 10 balls, caught by Daryl Mitchell off the bowling of Sheat, it was clear this storyline wasn’t going to have a happy ending for the visitors.
Will Williams, who created havoc in the first innings by snaring five wickets, dismissed Black Cap BJ Watling for a duck for his sole victim in the second innings.
Henry Cooper was ND’s best with the willow, scoring 22 runs off 86 balls. He, too, couldn’t deal with Sheat’s bowling, caught by Cam Fletcher.
Canterbury will aim to maintain its unbeaten run when they play Otago at Alexandra’s Molyneux Park next week, while ND will play the Central Stags at Saxton Oval in Stoke near Nelson.
Meanwhile, the Otago Volts looked to be well-placed to beat the Wellington Firebirds at the end of play at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Otago, having posted 36 runs for the loss of one wicket in their second innings, were in front by 96 at the close of play on Friday evening.
On Saturday Otago decided to be bold; the decision to declare at 218 for 3 after 57.4 overs gave Wellington a target of 483 to chase and by stumps on the third day it wasn’t looking too flash for the men from the capital.
Wellington, having scored 205 in their first innings, were 185-7 at the close of play with opener Tom Blundell unbeaten on 101 off 140 balls. They require 94 runs for victory on the final day.
Wellington opening batsman Blundell struck 12 boundaries during this knock, that effort sticking out like the proverbial rabbit’s ears when compared to that of his comrades.
Finn Allen’s total of 17, before he was dismissed, was the next best contribution for Wellington who may yet be saved by the rain that is forecast for Sunday.
Dale Phillips contributed an unbeaten 83 (14 boundaries) off 151 balls for Otago, who are aiming to defeat the champions without a win at the end of this round.
For the third consecutive day, no play was possible at Saxton Oval between the Central Stags and the Auckland Aces.
Plunket Shield, round three
At Mainpower Oval, Rangiora: Canterbury beat Northern Districts by an innings and 32 runs. (Fraser Sheat 5-33, Daryl Mitchell 3-10; Henry Cooper 22)
At the Basin Reserve, Wellington: Otago Volts 265 & 218-3 dec (D Phillips 83 no, H Rutherford 69) Wellington Firebirds 205 & 185-7 (T Blundell 101, F Allen 17).
At Saxton Oval, Stoke: Central Stags v Auckland Aces: No play.