Central Districts take Plunket Shield
Central Districts wrapped up this season's Plunket Shield cricket title in unusual circumstances in Nelson today.
Central were still in the field, chasing their 285-run second innings victory target against Northern Districts when news filtered through to Saxton Oval that Otago - the only remaining team in contention for the title - had just lost outright to Wellington.
With Central having entered the final round with a nine point lead over Otago, the title was secured.
Play was finally abandoned at tea with Central at 116-2 and an aggressive Jamie How unbeaten on 84 off just 63 balls, having collected 12 fours and three big sixes.
News of Otago's 54-run loss to Wellington had earlier been greeted with celebratory whoops of delight from the Central players during the second session drinks break as the two not out batsmen, Jamie How and Carl Cachopa, allowed themselves the luxury of a hug mid-pitch.
It provided a massive pressure release for Central, knowing they didn't have to secure outright points, leaving How and Mat Sinclair to bat out the reamining overs until tea.
Resuming today at 285-6, Northern's batsmen showed plenty of fight.
James Marshall completed a superb match double, following his first innings 72 with his 13th first class century in the second, continuing from his overnight score of 94 to reach his milestone in the day's sixth over.
He ended the innings unbeaten on 156 after the morning session had proved an exercise in frustration for Central's bowlers. The immovable Marshall received excellent support from both Anurag Verma and a gutsy Ish Sodhi batting at No 10 with a strained quad muscle.
Marshall added 37 runs with Verma (25) for the eighth wicket ahead of a remarkable 98-run partnership with a battling Sodhi for the ninth. Sodhi's contribution was a gritty 51 runs off 111 balls, including six boundaries, after he'd survived a one-handed diving chance at gully with his score on 14.
Marshall and Sodhi had carried the score through to 406-8 at lunch, a lead of 255 runs.
Marshall was dropped on 137 at second slip off the second ball after the break, before Doug Bracewell finally made the breakthrough, wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk holding an excellent low chance off Sodhi to finally offer Central some relief at 422-9.
Northern skipper Brad Wilson declared the innings shortly after at 435-9, leaving Marshall unbeaten after a 353-minute stay at the crease, having faced 204 balls and hit 20 boundaries.
Central's left arm seamer Ben Wheeler earned the bowling accolades after snaring just his second first class five-wicket bag, finishing with 5-91 off 25 overs. Bracewell took 3-92 off 29.3.
NORTHERN DISTRICTS first innings 267
CENTRAL DISTRICTS first innings 418
NORTHERN DISTRICTS second innings (continued at 285-6)
D Flynn c Lamb b Wheeler 37
J Yovich c Raval b Wheeler 0
B Wilson lbw b Wheeler 28
D Mitchell c van Wyk b Noema-Barnett 15
C Anderson c van Wyk b Bracewell 89
J Marshall not out 156
C Fletcher b Bracewell 7
J Boult c van Wyk b Wheeler 0
A Verma c Lamb b Wheeler 25
I Sodhi c van Wyk b Bracewell 51
B Arnel not out 4
Extras (4b, 4lb, 2w, 13nb): 23
Total (for 9 wkts dec, 126.3 overs): 435
Fall: 8, 70, 71, 109, 264, 285, 287, 324, 422
Bowling: D Bracewell 29.3-4-92-3 (1w, 5nb), B Wheeler 25-4-91-5 (1nb), A Mathieson 24-5-72-0 (1nb), A Lamb 19-3-77-0, T Nethula 12-0-62-0 (3nb), K Noema-Barnett 10-6-10-1 (1nb), C Cachopa 7-2-23-0 (1w).
CENTRAL DISTRICTS second innings
J Raval c Fletcher b Arnel 9
J How not out 84
C Cachopa c Verma b Boult 20
M Sinclair not out 1
Extras (1lb, 1nb): 2
Total (for 2 wkts, 22 overs): 116
Fall: 28, 87,
Bowling: B Arnel 7-2-26-1, A Verma 4-0-26-0 (1nb), C Anderson 2-0-10-0, D Mitchell 2-0-35-0, J Boult 4-1-17-1, J Marshall 3-2-1-0.
The Nelson Mail