Black Caps test keeper Tom Blundell’s blistering form with the bat continues for Firebirds

With white ball cricket dominating the international stage, Black Caps test keeper Tom Blundell is doing his best to make sure he’s not being forgotten.

Batting at five for the Wellington Firebirds in their round four Plunket Shield match against the Central Stags at Fitzherbert Park in Palmerston North, Blundell stroked his way to a typically classy first-day century.

With Devon Conway and Tom Latham taking the gloves for the Black Caps in T20 and ODI’s, Blundell’s focus is on the test arena and he’s proving his worth in the domestic red ball competition.

Tom Blundell has scored his second century of the season for Wellington in the Plunket Shield.

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Tom Blundell has scored his second century of the season for Wellington in the Plunket Shield.

Monday’s 105 against the Central Stags was Blundell’s second century of the season in just round four.

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He’s the Firebirds’ top run scorer and for a short time on Monday evening, Blundell was the leading run scoring in this summer’s Plunket Shield with 378 runs – at an average of 54 – but Central’s Tom Bruce (380 runs) overtook him when he made it through to an unbeaten 15 at stumps.

Blundell, the Wellington skipper, came to the crease with the Firebirds battling along at 65-3 but soon turned things around with his 105 coming up in 132 balls and featuring 14 fours and a six.

During his 13th first-class century, Blundell also brought up the milestone of 5000 first-class runs.

Troy Johnson and Blundell put on 70 for the fourth wicket before the latter combined with Peter Younghusband for a 63 run stand for the sixth.

Johnson (43) and Rachin Ravindra (30) were next best on the runs sheet for Wellington as they stuttered through to 262 after being asked to bat by the Stags.

Liam Dudding has claimed his maiden five-wicket bag for the Stags.

Margot Butcher / Supplied

Liam Dudding has claimed his maiden five-wicket bag for the Stags.

Central’s Liam Dudding was the pick of the bowlers, grabbing his maiden five-wicket bag with figures of 5-65.

In response, Michael Snedden and Logan van Beek, fresh from his T20 World Cup campaign with the Netherlands, had the Stags on their knees at 3-3 with Will Young (1), Curtis Heaphy and Dane Cleaver (both failing to score) all dismissed cheaply.

Van Beek removed Heaphy and Cleaver in consecutive balls.

Bruce and Brad Schmulian were the not out batters with the Stags still 239 runs behind with seven wickets in the bank.

Elsewhere, three wickets late in the day helped Canterbury pull back a rampant Auckland Aces batting line up at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Auckland Aces captain Robbie O'Donnell scored his eighth first-class century.

Andrew Cornaga / Photosport

Auckland Aces captain Robbie O’Donnell scored his eighth first-class century.

The defending champions were cruising at 306-5 thanks to the blazing bat of Robbie O’Donnell but lost three middle-order wickets for just 13 runs.

O’Donnell was the middle wicket of that trio, trapped in front by Henry Shipley for 123, an innings that featured 22 fours and one six in his 172 ball stay.

But by stumps, Auckland, who won the toss and elected to bat, were in complete control at 349-8.

Shipley grabbed four of the eight wickets to fall with Sean Davey taking three for the competition leaders.

All-rounder Simon Keene made 60 for Auckland after the top three of Will O’Donnell (35), Sean Solia (36) and Cole Briggs (40) helped the Aces make a solid start.

At University of Otago Oval in Dunedin, the Otago Volts strapped on the pads after winning the toss but were rolled for 181 in two sessions.

All-rounder Jake Gibson top scored with 60 as all seven Northern Districts bowlers used, captured either one or two wickets.

Spinner Tim Pringle, son of former New Zealand medium pacer Chris Pringle, removed Jacob Cumming to claim his maiden Plunket Shield wicket on debut.

Jacob Duffy kept Otago in the match with three wickets as Northern stumbled their way to 84-5 in reply.

A sharp piece of fielding and a direct hit from Gibson removed former Black Cap Jeet Raval for 9.

Northern Districts still trail Otago by 97 runs with five wickets in hand.

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