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March 2023

Records galore fall at the Bay Oval

Big numbers again took centre stage at the Bay Oval, when Northern Districts hosted Central Districts in a time-honored NZC Plunket Shield match.


Big numbers again took centre stage at the Bay Oval, when Northern Districts hosted Central Districts in a time-honored NZC Plunket Shield match.
The four-day first-class encounter kicked off on Sunday 5th March 2023 and produced a massive 1379 runs in the game, producing a result late on the last day of scheduled play.
Cricket aficionados were sent scurrying for their records books, as six centuries were blasted and 37 wickets fell in the four days of play. The myriad of milestones produced, further enhanced the Mount Maunganui international grounds reputation, as capable of producing avalanches of runs while also giving bowlers genuine opportunities.
ND won the toss and elected to bat, and dominated day one proceedings to reach 346 for the loss of four wickets, at stumps. Home skipper Jeet Raval, brought up his 20th first-class century, before being dismissed with 119 runs to his name. Bharat Popli worked the ball well to belt 105 runs from 189 balls.
The home side were eventually dismissed at the end of the first session on day two, for 513. Mitchell Santner top scored with 136 runs, which included eighteen 4's and four 6's. Other solid contributions were posted by Colin de Grandhomme (54no) and Brett Hampton (40).
The ND bowlers continued their sides early domination of the match. The pace attack made the early breakthroughs, with Mitchell Santner grabbing the last five Central Districts wickets, as they were bowled out for 254. Brad Schmulian was the shining light in his team’s performance in hitting 108.
Northern Districts wisely elected not to enforce the follow-on and were 15 without loss at lunch, on the penultimate days play. Central Districts worked their way into the match with ND declaring at 194/7 at tea.
The visitors were set a massive target of 463 to win. At stumps, they gave little hint of their dramatic final days play fightback, at 71/2.
Central Districts skipper, Greg Hay, led the huge run chase coming in at three, after CD lost their first wicket with just 18 runs on the board.
The arrival of Tom Bruce, with his side in real trouble at four down with just 74 runs on the board, turned the match's momentum on its head. The CD leader and the former Black Cap T20 International proceeded to handle with ease all that the opposition bowlers could direct at them, on the finals days play.
The pair stuck like glue out in the centre of the Bay Oval, putting on a fifth wicket partnership of 270 before Hay was caught and bowled by Tim Pringle, with a neat 150 runs in the book. The CD skipper had spent a marathon 403 minutes at the crease.
Doug Bracewell continued his sides drive for a magical victory when he joined Tom Bruce in the middle. Bracewell hit a quickfire 50 off just 33 balls, which had the fielders retreating to protect the boundary, as he belted thirty-two runs in boundaries.
Central Districts were in striking distance of the big target when Bracewell’s innings came to an end, needing 49 runs to win with four wickets in hand.
The ND spinners then weaved their magic removing the final three batsmen at a cost of a solitary run. When Tom Bruce's wicket fell, his side were just 36 runs short of a colossal upset.
Bruce was in superlative form in hammering 161 runs of 256 balls with fifteen 4's and two big shots over the boundary. The ND spin pair of Tim Pringle and Mitchell Santner each took three wickets. Pringle finished with three wickets from 25 overs while Santner took three wickets from a marathon 36.2 overs, which included seven maiden overs.
In this writers humble opinion, Mitchell Santner was the MVP of the four-day game, with a rare as hens teeth, century and five-wicket bag. Close behind was Central Districts Tom Bruce with scores of 67 and 161.
NZC Plunket Shield - Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui 5-8 March 2023
Northern Districts 513 (MJ Santner 136, JA Raval 119, B Popli 105, C de Grandhomme 54no, BR Hampton 40; BD Schmulian 3/45) & 194/7 declared (B Popli 70, MJ Santner 41)
Central Districts 245 (BD Schmulian 108, TC Bruce 67; MJ Santner 5/51) & 427 (TC Bruce 161, GR Hay 150, DAJ Bracewell 50; TJG Pringle 3/92, MJ Santner 3/102)
Result: Northern Districts won by 35 runs.

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