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March 5, 2024 3:00 PM

Published by Cricket Wellington

The Wellington Firebirds took top spot in the Plunket Shield over the weekend with an outright win over Canterbury at Mainpower Oval, Rangiora on Sunday, having earlier conceded a first innings lead of over 200 runs.

Invited to bat first the red-and-black’s opening batters Rhys Mariu and Chad Bowes both scored centuries, putting on 197 runs for the first wicket as the home side racked up 526 in 127.3 overs.

The Firebirds lost two early wickets in reply, but captain Nick Kelly batted splendidly to bring up his fifth first-class century on his way to a classy 138 and he received good support from Gareth Severin (61) and Muhammad Abbas (30).  

Muhammad Abbas (left) and Nick Kelly (right)

Despite a first innings advantage of 218 runs, Canterbury did not enforce the follow-on and made hard work of their second innings, being dismissed for just over 100 in the 45th over.  

Nathan Smith's outstanding season continues as he recorded his best ever first-class figures of 6/36, four of his wickets being caught behind by Callum McLachlan, who took five catches in all.

The Firebirds needed a challenging 328 runs to win, and they were 54-2 at the end of the third day with 274 still needed.  

Kelly and Severin batted well again to both make half-centuries and Wellington were 180-5 when Smith joined Abbas on the stroke of lunch.  

With nearly 150 runs still to get in the afternoon of the final day, both Smith and Abbas finished not out as their partnership of 148 runs in 40 overs brought a third Firebirds’ victory this season shortly after tea.  

Abbas achieved his second first class century (110*) and Smith his tenth half-century (75*).  

The Firebirds’ next fixture is against the third-placed Central Stags at Palmerston North starting on Friday.

Short scoreboard

Canterbury 526 (Mariu 145, Bowes 114, Cole McConchie 82, Logan van Beek 3-121) and 109 (Mitch Hay 35*, Smith 6-36)

Wellington Firebirds 308 (Kelly 138, Severin 61, Abbas 30, Angus McKenzie 4-64, Ed Nuttall 3-62) and 328-5 (Abbas 110*, Smith 75*, Kelly 56, Severin 53)

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