Canterbury fend off Firebirds' chase
Canterbury cut it fine but left Wellington behind at the foot of the Plunket Shield table after a tense 20-run win in the capital yesterday.
Canterbury challenged Wellington to score 384 to win on the final day of their four-day match. The home side, after being in trouble halfway through their innings at 159 for five, gave it a decent nudge before being dismissed for 363.
A knock of 91 from in-form Black Caps one-day batsman Grant Elliott and half centuries to Harry Boam, who shared a century stand with Elliott, and Mark Gillespie carried Wellington to the brink.
However, Canterbury left-arm pace bowler Ryan McCone delivered the knockout blow, dismissing the aggressive Gillespie who threatened to swing the match with his bold 63 from 51 balls with five sixes and three fours.
Canterbury backed their spin bowlers to dismiss Wellington on the fourth day and they contributed significantly with legspinner Todd Astle and left-armer Ronnie Hira each snaring three wickets.
Astle got through a large workload of 38 overs and captured three wickets, including the vital scalp of the dangerous Jesse Ryder, bowled for 31.
Hira, having his first bowl at first-class level for five seasons after four appearances over two seasons for Auckland, then dismissed both Elliott and Boam who could have carried the capital through.
Hira bagged three for 85, his best first-class figures to go along with an unbeaten 57 in the Wizards' second innings to also post his highest score.
Canterbury batted solidly on Saturday, amassing 410 for seven before a declaration, the innings capped by a century from left-hander George Worker.
He had good support with half centuries from Tom Latham, Peter Fulton and Hira, who added an unbroken 82 with McCone for the eighth wicket.
The win lifted Canterbury to third on the table 61 points while Wellington is at the bottom on 57. Canterbury still trails the top two teams, Central Districts and Otago, who both scored outright wins at the weekend by over 30 points with three rounds left.
Those teams have played one more match.