Plunket Shield Report – Firebirds v Northern Districts
Basin Reserve 6-9 November 2023
This top-of-the-table showdown was marred by adverse weather, and rain had the final say on day 4 with neither side able to achieve a win. The Firebirds were invited to bat first in cold, blustery conditions on Monday with the start being delayed by 30 minutes. Only 56 overs could be completed and the Firebirds’ top and middle order battled well in difficult conditions, finishing the day on 234-6. Skipper Nick Kelly made his third fifty of the season, while Tim Robinson, who came in for the injured Mo Abbas, hit his second for the Firebirds.
Only 27 overs were possible on the second day due to further persistent rain. The Firebirds lost their last four wickets for 36 runs, then secured four Northern scalps for 56. Nathan Smith brought up his first half-century of the season and took two of the Northern wickets to fall.
On the third morning Northern slumped to 69-7, and were 108-8, before late resistance, primarily from Brett Hampton, with a career-high 85, saw them reduce the deficit to 79 runs. Smith took his fifth five-wicket ‘bag’ and his fourth for Wellington. The Firebirds began their second innings after lunch and reached 151-2 late in the day with Nick Greenwood, Gareth Severin and Kelly all batting soundly. Greenwood’s dismissal at this score led to a mini-collapse and the Firebirds reached stumps on 170-6, with a lead of 249.
They declared early on the final morning setting the visitors 304 to win in a minimum of 83 overs. After Northern’s opening partnership between Henry Cooper (73) and Jeet Raval (58) had realised 132 in 38 overs, they needed just 56 more runs with 16 overs to be bowled. Bad light drove the players from the field at this point, and then more rain brought an early finish, with the visitors well-placed for victory. Tim Robinson took 2-11 in his first bowling spell at this level.
6-9 November 2023
Basin Reserve, Wellington
Wellington Firebirds 270 (Robinson 60, Smith 58, Kelly 51, Severin 40) & 224-9 dec (Greenwood 73, Kelly 44, Severin 38)