Cricket: Kuggeleijn fires for Firebirds

Wellington Firebirds batsman Luke Ronchi. Photo / Greg Bowker.
Wellington Firebirds batsman Luke Ronchi. Photo / Greg Bowker.

Scott Kuggeleijn's maiden first-class century guided Wellington to a much-needed seven-wicket win over Central Districts in Plunket Shield action at Karori Park in the capital today.

Wellington jumped to third on the Plunket Shield standings with the victory that was inspired by an unlucky source on the fourth-and-final day.

The home side began this morning on 53-3 in pursuit of 247 with Kuggeleijn, who had came in as night watchman late on day three, and veteran opener Michael Papps at the crease.

The pair turned out to be the only batsmen the CD bowlers would see as Kuggeleijn was particularly aggressive as he plundered an unbeaten 142 from No 5 that included 15 fours and five sixes.

Papps became the anchor as he made his way to 77 not out when the winning runs were scored and Wellington finished on 248-3.

Coming in to the game Kuggeleijn had never made a score of more than 36 in his seven previous first-class innings.

Today's exploits may see the 20-year-old move slightly up the order in the future, while CD managed to hold on to top spot on the Plunket Shield ladder despite the loss.

Papps and Kuggeleijn combined for an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 214 as no Central bowler could find a way through.

Papps' unbeaten 77 followed up his first-innings century and given Peter Fulton's recent recall to the New Zealand side, Papps might also believe another chance at international cricket could come his way if he keeps piling on the runs.

The right-handed opener has fashioned a productive first-class career since he debuted for Canterbury in the summer of 1998-1999 and has made 23 centuries at an average of 37.68.

Central's next Plunket Shield match starts on Monday when they meet Otago at the University Oval in Dunedin, while Wellington host Northern Districts at Karori Park in a game that also starts next Monday.

- APNZ

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