Anendra Singh: Watchman knocks daylight out of CD

By Anendra Singh

Some things you can't argue with. For example, the Wellington Firebirds have the wood on us this summer in two out of three forms of cricket.

Yesterday they claimed an outright victory over Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags in the four-day Plunket Shield match at Karori Park, Wellington.

In the shield seasoner opener in Napier the Firebirds made their intentions clear although one could argue it was a game CD lost after Jesse Ryder scored a century in both innings to seal the match.

Last Friday, Ryder again played a big hand in the convincing HRV Cup Twenty/20 victory at McLean Park, Napier.

Yesterday, Ryder wasn't instrumental in the second innings but nightwatchman Scott Kuggeleijn smacked an unbeaten 142 with opener Michael Papps 77 not out as the hosts eclipsed the target of 247 without losing any wickets after resuming yesterday at 3-53.

If you ask CD coach Alan Hunt, he'll tell you a closer scrutiny of the bigger picture will reveal CD have lost only two shield matches and are still perched on the top rung of the ladder.

That's a fair point, taking into consideration the Stags accumulated five points from yesterday's match - four bowling ones and one batting from the eight bonus points on offer.

"That means we have extended our lead by five points to an 18-point lead against the team below us who we play next week," Hunt said before the Stags play the second-placed Otago Volts in Dunedin from Monday.

Wellington desperately needed to win to stay in the shield hunt.

Hunt said Kuggeleijn was definitely better than a nightwatchman.

"He's capable but he rode his luck, too, quite a bit and got away with it.

"He was caught behind for about 40-odd and not given out so I guess that could have made things a little different for us.

"Things were streaky a little but good luck to him."

Primarily Hunt agreed it all boiled down to a poor first innings from CD who mustered only 260 with some poor shot selections on a day when former New Zealand Under-19 skipper William Young saved a few blushes with his maiden first-class century.

Yesterday, the benign batting wicket didn't change but while not a bogey side, Wellington did have the wood on CD.

"It is what it is, I suppose but everyone else seems to be beating them.

"All we can do is take care of our business but who we play against is irrelevant," Hunt said. CD were to start on Monday with the Black Caps pair of Adam Milne and Doug Bracewell but lost them both to injury.

The injection of Roald Badenhorst wasn't "perfect but he showed some promise", he said. The Manawatu right-hander was out for a duck at No 8 in the first dig but came in as nightwatchman as first drop to score 36 runs.

The 21-year-old claimed 2-44 from 12 overs, including three maidens in the first innings but was wicket-less in the second.

Skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett and Tarun Nethula are expected to return for the Boxing Day T20 match but Milne is expected back earlier.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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