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Central Districts 296 for 9 dec (Clarkson 79, Heaphy 56) and 156 for 5 dec (Boyle 47, Somerville 3-56) beat Auckland 161 for 1 dec (O'Donnell 76*, Guptill 45) and 103 (Toole 7-57, Dudding 3-32) by 188 runs
Raymond Toole's career-best performance of 7 for 57 inspired Central Districts to the Plunket Shield title triumph on Tuesday with a dominating 188-run win over Auckland in Nelson. Central Districts finished level on 101 points with Canterbury after eight matches and the winner was decided by the number of games won. Central Districts had five victories while Canterbury collected four.
This was Central Districts' 12th Shield title and first since the 2018-19 season.
On a dramatic final day - when the rest of the teams had finished their Shield games before this match - a draw wouldn't have been enough for Central Districts to get hold of the trophy as that or a loss would have crowned Canterbury the champions.
Left-arm quick Toole was the star of the day, picking up seven wickets in just 13.3 overs to bowl out Auckland for 103 in just 28.3 overs on the final day. Central Districts resumed on 56 for 0 and declared on 156 for 5 after scoring 100 runs in just 12 overs, to set Auckland a target of 292.
Toole struck on the third ball of the innings and went on to take six of the first seven wickets to reduce them to 78 for 8, not letting Auckland put on a partnership of more than 28 until then. He fittingly took the last wicket as well while Liam Dudding also chipped in with three wickets.
After the first day of the play was washed out, the match saw three declarations - Central Districts on 296 for 9 followed by Auckland on 161 for 1, to concede a big lead of 135, after an unbeaten 76 from Will O'Donnell and 45 from and Martin Guptill. Central Districts then raced to 56 for 0 in 10 overs on the third day before claiming the big win on Tuesday.
Toole also finished as the leading wicket-taker for Central Districts and second-highest wicket-taker with 31 scalps in this competition.