Anurag Verma continued his resurgent run of form with four wickets for the Wellington Firebirds on Monday in the Plunket Shield.

Verma’s haul helped Wellington to a handy first innings lead of 54 runs, having lost the toss on opening day, with Canterbury’s final eight wickets falling for just 110 runs.

At 133-2, they had look set to put together a big first innings total as Peter Fulton, the destroyer in the Ford Trophy final, was set on 79.

But his wicket, edging Verma through to wicket keeper Tom Blundell, saw about the steady fall of Canterbury wickets on a Basin Reserve wicket that is still offering enough to bowlers. They ended with 243 all out, having earlier finished off the Wellington innings at 297.

During Wellington’s run to Super Smash success, and the Ford Trophy final, Verma became a regular, handy contributor with the ball.

That form saw him keep his place in the four-day side, despite not playing a single match during the first half of the season, and wickets came with his return to red ball cricket.

All of his wickets were caught behind the wicket, three to Blundell and a fourth to Michael Papps at slip, as he got the ball to seam off the deck from a testing length.

Both Fulton and Henry Nicholls, Canterbury’s key wickets, fell to Verma, prompting Wellington’s surge into a first innings lead that had looked unlikely.

Canterbury had bowled Wellington out early in the second day, removing the final three wickets for just 23 runs in 8.4 overs.

Matt Henry completed his five-wicket haul, claiming 5-62 from 26 overs, by far the standout visiting bowler.

Hamish Bennett, the former Canterbury quick, removed Chad Bowes with the second ball of Canterbury’s innings as the opener shouldered arms and watched as his off stump was torn from the ground.

The visitors regrouped with consecutive 50-run partnerships for the second and third wickets, Verma ending each with a variety of line and length.

From then on Canterbury put together a series of 10 and 20 run partnerships, but couldn’t stick around long enough to seriously threaten Wellington’s first innings total.

Luke Woodcock and Michael Papps remained unbeaten at stumps, with the Wellington second innings score at 2-0.


Day two at the Basin Reserve: Wellington 297 (M Henry 5-62) and 2, leads Canterbury 243 (P Fulton 79, H Nicholls 34; A Verma 4-39) by 56 runs.

Article courtesy of Ben Strang – Stuff.

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