Cricket: Stage set for good finish today after 17 wickets fall

By Bob Pearce

Neal Parlane of Wellington. Photo / Getty Images
Neal Parlane of Wellington. Photo / Getty Images

Seventeen wickets fell yesterday but the Plunket Shield cricket game between Auckland and Wellington remains in the balance on the final day today.

Wellington's first innings was quickly wrapped up for 258, Auckland declared 107 behind after a brisk 151 for eight and at stumps Wellington were 138 for eight, a lead of 245.

On a day for the bowlers the best figures came from Auckland left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, who bowled 15 overs and took four for 41. Top scorer on what was hardly a minefield of a wicket was Auckland opener Jeet Raval with 33.

Wellington added only one run to their overnight score as Chris Martin took the final wicket to complete a five-wicket bag.

With nothing to lose from bottom place on the table, Auckland were determined to move the game along with positive batting. Raval's 33 included five fours but fellow opener Tim McIntosh went cheaply and the rest of the batting was cameos from Gareth Hopkins (20), Anaru Kitchen (20) and Brad Cachopa (31).

Mark Gillespie took the first two wickets and there were two each for Ili Tugaga, Jetan Patel and Andy McKay. The fielding highlight was a brilliant one-handed catch by Michael Pollard at midwicket to dismiss Kitchen off a full-blooded pull. When Hopkins decided to declare, Wellington's task looked simple: build on that 107-run lead and choose the moment to set Auckland a tough target.

They were 72 for two at tea and cruising but Chris Martin put the pressure on by taking two wickets with successive balls when first Neal Parlane and then Pollard opted not to play balls headed for the stumps. Parlane was bowled and Pollard leg before.

Bruce Martin, meanwhile, was confusing the batsmen with a little spin and a lot of flight. Stuart Rhodes and Jetan Patel were stumped, while Grant Elliott and Joe Austin-Smellie were caught trying to hit out.

Not out on 27 when bad light brought an end a few minutes early was usual opener Cameron Merchant, who came in seventh after being unwell in the morning.

No play was possible for the second day in a row in the top of the table clash between Central Districts and Northern Districts at Napier.

- NZ Herald

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