Canterbury win Plunket Shield in bizarre style

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 19:22 19/02/2014

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Canterbury have won their first domestic cricket trophy in three seasons in the most bizarre circumstances.

They won the 2013-2014 Plunket Shield championship with a round to go but there were no bubbles or players running onto the pitch to celebrate, in fact, the actual Shield wasn't even present.

A tame draw with Central Districts at Rangiora today looked sure to have ensured the title would be decided at the last match of the season, against Central Districts again, in Napier.

However, rain in Whangarei and a washed-out final day stopped Wellington picking up the final two wickets they needed to beat Northern Districts while Otago held on for the unlikeliest of draws against Auckland in Dunedin.

Otago started the final day 23-0, still 263-runs from making Auckland bat again.

They dipped to 119-6 leaving Auckland 54 overs to pick up the final six wickets, earn a valuable 12 outright points and keep their title chances alive.

But 155 not out from Michael Bracewell and valuable contributions from Sam Wells (20 from 45), Derek de Boorder (27 from 98) and Bradley Scott (17 from 74) helped Otago hold on.

That leaves Canterbury with a 21-point lead over Otago and Central Districts with a maximum of 20 points available from a match. The side sat in their Rangiora changing rooms keenly watching the live scoring online before their celebrations started.

"We're delighted," coach Gary Stead said.

"It's just reward for how we played all season. We won the most games outright [four], but we've played positively and created opportunities and we had chances to win most of our games."

Canterbury last won the Plunket Shield in the 2010-2011 and have now won New Zealand's most prestigious domestic cricket title 17 times.

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