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Last chance to haul in first-class leaders before Christmas

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

All three fourth-round Plunket Shield matches are underway on time this morning around the country, with New Zealand's first-class championship about to hit its halfway mark for the season.

Round four also represents the last round before Christmas, with the remaining four rounds resuming in March 2021. All chasing teams have their eye on gaining ground on the table, with the Auckland Aces the only side capable of hauling in unbeaten frontrunner Canterbury's 16-point lead at the top of the table over the next four days.

Canterbury - now with BLACKCAP Henry Nicholls back in the squad - has scorched its way to the top with two comprehensive wins over defending champions the Wellington Firebirds as well as an innings victory over ND, and have been asked to bowl first for today's round by Otago Volts captain Hamish Rutherford at Molyneux Park, Alexandra in Central Otago. The Volts lost two early wickets, however, inside the first four overs with Ed Nuttall and Will Williams striking early blows, and then Williams struck again at 36/3.

The Volts, Central Stags and Northern Districts are all jammed in the middle of the table on 25 (Volts and ND) and 23 points respectively, and will be hungry to gain ground before the resumption. All three are capable of overtaking the second-placed Aces in this round.

The latter two teams are duelling it out against other at Nelson's Saxton Oval where fine weather has local captain Greg Hay smiling after weather prevented any play in last week's fixture against the Aces, costing both teams a chance to move up the ladder. ND captain Joe Carter won the toss and elected to bat first, but lost an early wicket with Jeet Raval caught in the slips by Ross Taylor off Seth Rance at 9/1.

Meanwhile the winless Firebirds are hungry to break their egg, but will need to beat the undefeated Auckland Aces at the Basin Reserve to do so. Firebirds captain Michael Bracewell has won the toss and bowled first, with both Aces opening batsmen falling in the first three overs.

- A maximum of 20 points are available per team per round.

- All matches are free admission.

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