Canterbury win by six wickets
A strong "workmanlike" performance with the majority of the side contributing has helped Canterbury extend their lead in cricket's Plunket Shield.
Canterbury nabbed 19 out of a possible 20 points in their six-wicket win over Northern Districts at Hagley Oval and now have three outright wins from four matches.
Coach Gary Stead was chuffed with the win, but more pleased with the manner of it.
"If you have a look at tea [Saturday], they had a lead of about 40 and were just two down and a win like this didn't seem very likely."
Hamish Bennett, Matt Henry and Todd Astle then helped Canterbury take 7-73 and wrestle back the momentum and advantage their batsmen had earlier earned.
An annoying 53-run last wicket partnership between Jono Boult (47) and James Baker (16no) helped give ND a tricky 158-run lead and there were a few nervous faces when Canterbury stumbled to 15-2.
But Dean Brownlie's second half century of the match and third in succession, then sensible knocks from Henry Nicholls (34no) and Brad Cachopa (22no) helped knock off the target early in yesterday's final session.
"I think we deserved to win," Stead said.
"We dominated the majority of the match and played plenty of good cricket."
There were two major turning points in the match. The first was Andrew Ellis (142) and Logan van Beek's (50) 135-run eight wicket partnership on day two.
Not only did both score their highest first-class scores, but they helped pass ND's first innings of 176 then, with the help of a strong performance from the tail, built what turned out to be a 206-run first innings match-winning lead.
The second crucial spell was late on Saturday in the heat. ND's Joe Carter (81) and Daryl Mitchell (103) put on 170 for the third wicket and were well on their way to saving the game before the pace bowlers broke through.
"The work Matt and Hamish did, especially Hamish backing up after the game against Wellington where he bowled a lot too, I thought that was brilliant," Stead said.
Henry took 4-97 to give him seven scalps in the match while Bennett took 3-73 from 31 overs.
Stead heaped praise on Todd Astle (2-73) and the wicketless van Beek and Shanan Stewart who stepped up with Ellis unable to bowl because of a side injury.
Canterbury have one more Plunket Shield match before Christmas, against Wellington in the capital starting on Friday.
Stead was unsure if he'd need to rotate his quick bowlers. It was still unclear if Ellis would be able to bowl; Matt Henry missed the last match with a hamstring complaint, but got through 51 overs against ND and Bennett has now bowled 136.2 overs in four matches.
Left armer Ryan McCone returned to club cricket on Saturday, but Stead said he was not yet ready while contracted quick Matt McEwan and two other left-armers, Ed Nuttall and Willie Lonsdale are both bowling well in club cricket.
In other matches, Wellington had an eight wicket win over Otago in Invercargill while Auckland batted out for a draw against Central Districts in Napier.
- © Fairfax NZ News