Classy Fulton ton helps strengthen Canterbury's bid for Plunket Shield glory
Another classy Peter Fulton century had helped to consolidate Canterbury's claims to this season's Plunket Shield title after day one of their ninth-round clash with the Central Stags at Nelson's Saxton Oval.
Competition leaders Canterbury appear to have one hand on the title with just one further round remaining. But Central were fighting hard to remain in the contest and at least stall Canterbury's title hopes as Canterbury reached stumps at 297-6 on Tuesday.
Fulton had looked in ominous touch en route to his 19th first class century, stroking a single to mid-on off left-arm spinner George Worker to bring up his milestone just prior to tea. Fulton's clean hitting and solid defence highlighted an unblemished performance by the experienced right-hander until he surprisingly pushed one straight back to Stags' seamer Jesse Ryder and was gone for 110 at 213-4 in the 67th over.
Fulton faced 180 balls and hit 16 fours and two sixes in just four minutes shy of a four-hour stay at the crease.
After having scored two centuries in his last three Plunket Shield outings, 24-year-old South African opener Chad Bowes had earlier made another solid 53-run contribution to help kick-start the innings.
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Canterbury lost the early wicket of Jack Boyle at 12-1 in the fifth over, caught at slip off Adam Milne, before Bowes and Fulton settled into a productive second-wicket stand.
The pair carried the score through to 79-1 at lunch with Bowes posting his eighth first class 50 off 95 balls with a single off left arm spinner Ajaz Patel shortly after the resumption. But Patel struck soon after, trapping Bowes lbw for 53 at 101-2 to end their 89-run partnership.
Fulton brought up his half century with a single off seamer Navin Patel and despite Ken McClure's quick departure for four at 122-3, Fulton and Cole McConchie carried the score through to 193-3 at tea.
Ryder then made the important breakthrough to finally break Fulton's threatening 91-run stand with McConchie as the Stags bowlers continued to work hard to keep the Canterbury innings in check.
Fulton later admitted that he'd felt comfortable throughout.
"I felt pretty good the whole way through my innings and it was a pretty good wicket considering it was day one," Fulton said
"I just tried to make sure we got through that first session and was lucky enough to be able to cash in a little later on."
However his relatively soft dismissal surprised him as much as anyone.
"As far as bowlers go, Jesse's got a pretty good pair of hands, so the wrong guy to hit it to. It was pretty disappointing I guess because I was feeling pretty comfortable and sort of had my eyes set on a really big one."
He was still satisfied with the team's score at stumps.
"I think we would have taken that at the start of the day ... we've still got a bit of batting to come so hopefully we can push on tomorrow, get a few more, then the hard work'll start with the ball."
McConchie continued Canterbury's fight, eventually registering his half century, his first at first class level after having recorded a previous highest score of 103.
McConchie added a further 64 runs with his skipper Andy Ellis before shouldering arms to a Navin Patel delivery that hit his off stump and was out for 70, having faced 131 balls and hitting nine fours.
Milne also picked up the key wicket of Ellis (31) before the close the finish the day with 3-36.
At a glance
Canterbury 297-6 (C Bowes 53, P Fulton 110, C McConchie 70, A Ellis 31; A Milne 3-36) met Central Stags.