Bacon produces sizzling form as Volts dispatch Firebirds

Otago Volts Matt Bacon bowls against Wellington at the University Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago Volts Matt Bacon bowls against Wellington at the University Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago knocked off a couple of firsts yesterday.

The Volts secured their first Plunket Shield win this season with a dramatic three-wicket win against Wellington at the University of Otago Oval.

And Matt Bacon grabbed his first 10-wicket haul in a match to help set up the win. It is a major achievement which might happen once or twice in a career if you are very good or very lucky.

In Bacon's case it was the former. The 25-year-old right-hander kept running in hard and giving it his all.

It was not always going well, either. The ball sped to the boundary plenty. Tom Blundell saw to that.

The Firebirds wicketkeeper-batsman blazed an unbeaten 100 to help his side post 307 for nine declared.

That left the Volts chasing 307 from a minimum of 72 overs. The required run rate of 4.26 was demanding but certainly not out of reach.

Opener Hamish Rutherford got the chase off to a solid start with 45.

Mitch Renwick gave the innings momentum with a punishing knock of 66 from 75.

But the grunt work was done by Nathan Smith (47 not out) and Christi Viljoen (46). They put on a clutch partnership of 75 from 90 deliveries in a pressured final session.

They had to work through a testing spell from Hamish Bennett and see off crafty spinner Jeetan Patel at the other.

It was hard work but it paid off. Smith swung away a boundary to seal the win in the penultimate over of the match.

It was a tremendous knock by a player on the rise. Otago has found a quality all-rounder in the 20-year-old.

But it was Bacon who starred. He became the first Otago player to snaffle 10 wickets in a match since Ian Butler took 10 for 111 against Northern Districts in Queenstown in January 2013.

Bacon grabbed six for 73 in the first innings to help dismiss Wellington to 284.

Wickets were a little harder to come by in the second innings.

But he plugged away and was rewarded with four for 71.

''I think the thing with Bacs was he just keeps coming, keeps running in and always has his full heart in the game,'' Volts coach Rob Walter said.

''It is just reward for a guy that puts in the work on and off the park.''

Walter had a special mention for Smith as well.

''That is four knocks in a row now when he has gone over 40. Those are good signs for any player playing very mature cricket.

''I've said it for a long time, he is a very good batter.''

In Rangiora, Canterbury prevailed by 80 runs against Auckland. It set the visitors a target of 351 and bowled them out for 270.

Test leg spinner Todd Astle shone with five for 69.

The win has kept Canterbury in the hunt for the title, although Central Districts enjoy a 15-point lead at the top of the standings with one round remaining.

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