Raval, How lift CD shield hopes
Central still had their hand firmly on the tiller but with plenty of work ahead as they continue to bear down on this season's Plunket Shield cricket title.
They ended yesterday's second day of their final-round match against Northern Districts at Nelson's Saxton Oval at a commanding 397 for 9, now 130 runs ahead of Northern with one wicket in hand and two full days' play remaining.
Central's opening batsmen Jeet Raval and Jamie How earned the day's major accolades although a defiant late stand had put Central back behind the steering wheel.
Northern had staged a minor recovery at 285 for 6 after a record-equalling stand between Raval and How had threatened to snatch the game away from them. But a 96-run seventh wicket stand between Doug Bracewell (67) and Tarun Nethula (28) reignited the innings as Central ended the day with a significant advantage.
Left-hander Raval had earlier celebrated his maiden century for Central and his fifth at first class level as he and How plundered a mammoth 215 runs to equal Central's record opening stand against Northern.
Northern had been dismissed for 267 late on day one, with Central resuming today at 46 without loss.
Raval went to the lunch break on 99 and with the total at 195, the pair having added 149 runs in the morning session. He endured a testing maiden over from Brent Arnel the second over back before a single off a misfield two overs later finally secured his hundred off 155 deliveries.
How looked poised to join him shortly afterwards but with his score on 93, he miscued an attempted pull shot off leftarmer Corey Anderson and lobbed a comfortable top edge to keeper Cameron Fletcher. How faced 146 balls and hit 11 fours and two sixes.
Raval added a further 29 runs with Carl Cachopa before Raval's marathon innings finally ended, caught down the leg side off his gloves off Anurag Verma for 121 with the total at 244. It was his top score for Central, beating his previous best 77, Raval having batted for 4 hours 16 minutes, faced 185 balls and hit 19 fours.
Despite his obvious disappointment at falling desperately short of his 16th first class century, How acknowledged the important contribution made by himself and Raval. He also admitted it was hard work.
"[I wasn't] that comfortable to be fair, it was a bit ropey," How said.
"There's a little bit of life in the wicket and hopefully the more time we spend out there, the more tired they get and hopefully we can build a really substantial first innings."
Raval in particular edged several streaky shots through slips in an otherwise impressive performance.
"I thought they bowled well. BA [Brent Arnel] in particular, he bowled a lot better than what his figures suggest.
"A bit of luck went our way as well, a few nicks that didn't go to hand but it's a wicket where at times you might feel in but, you know, the odd one will just do a bit, just enough to keep you honest.
"We don't want to look too far ahead, we want to keep playing session by session and at the moment, we're doing pretty well."
Northern made further inroads when offspinner Jono Boult had Cachopa well caught at short leg for 23 as Central went to the tea break at 275 for 3. Mathew Sinclair went at 283, edging part timer James Marshall also for 23, with Kruger van Wyk (1) and Kieran Noema-Barnett (6) following shortly after at 285 for 6.
Bracewell smashed 12 boundaries off 73 balls for his 67 and Nethula 28 off a more sedate 53. Both went in the same over off Boult offspin. This left Andrew Lamb (10) and Andrew Mathieson (6) to guide Central Districts through to stumps.
NORTHERN DISTRICTS first innings 267
CENTRAL DISTRICTS first innings
(contd at 46 for 0)
J Raval c Fletcher b Verma 121
J How c Fletcher b anderson 93
C Cachopa c Flynn b Boult 23
M Sinclair c Fletcher b Marshall 23
K Noema-Barnett lbw b Arnel 6
K van Wyk c Wilson b Arnel 1
D Bracewell c Yovich b Boult 67
T Nethula c Wilson b Boult 28
B Wheeler c Arnel b Verma 0
A Lamb not out 10
A Mathieson not out 6
Extras (5b, 7lb, 5w, 2nb) 19
Total (for 9 wkts, 108 overs) 397
Fall: 215, 244, 265, 283, 284, 285, 381, 381, 381
Bowling: B Arnel 25-6-82-2 (1w), A Verma 26-5-119-2 (1w, 2nb), I Sodhi 1-0-4-0, C Anderson 19-4-67-1 (1w), J Boult 24-5-83-3, D Mitchell 10-2-28-0 (2w), J Marshall 3-1-2-1.
The Nelson Mail