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Final Hawke Cup challenge: Crucial day in Plunket Shield race

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Having prised away the Hawke Cup from Hamilton, Canterbury Country will begin its defence against Zone 4 qualifier Otago Country today when the final Challenge match of the summer gets underway at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval.

It's a rare challenge against a strong Canterbury Country side for the small Otago Country association who last challenged for the interprovincial silverware nine summers ago.

A ground delay in Rangiora has led to a delayed toss.

To win the Hawke Cup, challengers must beat the holders on their home ground, either outright or on the first innings in the event of a drawn match.

Canterbury Country v Otago Country livescoring link

Today's black Friday will prove unlucky for some in the Plunket Shield with the three sixth-round matches boiling down to a conclusion today.

Leaders the Wellington Firebirds are well poised to extend their lead with a key victory over the Auckland Aces - who had headed into the round in second spot.

The Aces are battling for survival at Auckland's Colin Maiden Park, nine down and looking to avoid an innings defeat. An outright victory will take the Firebirds to 83 points on the table with captain Michael Bracewell - an occasional spin bowler - on career-best first-class figures after having snared the 9th wicket this morning.

Meanwhile, defending champions the Central Stags are in a race against the clock in a weather-hit round in Dunedin, looking to force an outright ahead of their big seventh-round clash with the Firebirds on Napier.

After a delayed start to the final day, overnight batsmen Greg Hay and Will Young have resumed the Stags' second innings, holding an overnight lead of 143 with nine wickets in hand.

The Stags are looking to become the first team in 80 years to win the championship for three seasons in a row while the scorching Firebirds are looking to end a lengthy first-class title dought, having last won the Plunket Shield in 2003/04.

Auckland Aces v Wellington Firebirds

Colin Maiden Park, Auckland

Livescoring

Detailed Match Report

Otago Volts v Central Stags

University of Otago Oval, Dunedin

Livescoring

Detailed Match Report

Northern Districts v Canterbury

Seddon Park, Hamilton

Livescoring

Detailed Match Report

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