Cricket: Ryder hangs in as CD zero in

By Anendra Singh

Just as weight loss is more a matter of inspiration than perspiration, the Plunket Shield cricketers will today have to find the right balance to assert their presence.

Wellington Firebirds No 4 batsman Jesse Ryder had it all figured out as he sits on 84 not out when the visitors resume on the third day of their four-day first-class match at Nelson Park, Napier, with a 129-run lead and just two wickets in hand with rabbit Mark Gillespie 7 not out at the other end.

On a campaign to earn his Black Caps berth back, the former Hawke's Bay cricketer was accorded respect as the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags field pulled out to the boundary every time he was on strike but closed in ambush-like on the other batsmen with effectiveness to leave the Wellingtonians on 243-8 from 69 overs at stumps.

How costly it will be after the Stags dropped Ryder in the slips early in his innings not long after tea remains to be seen, after the hosts failed to capitalise on a day-one innings of 301-3 when play resumed yesterday.

"It was a tough chance but that happens in cricket so we'll just have to make sure we'll come back tomorrow," CD rookie skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett said as century-maker Mathew Sinclair was first man out for 143 and wickets tumbled before a declaration of 383-8.

"We've got to make sure we finish their first innings well," the rookie skipper said, adding they were going to plot the Firebirds' demise overnight.

The batting, he said, was not a bad effort on a wicket that was offering bowlers some purchase.

"We didn't bat particularly well this morning but we'll get another opportunity tomorrow," he said, finding it difficult to put a finger on why the mat was pulled from under them although he felt it was a combination of conditions, first game of the season and poor shot selection.

Michael Papps (52) and Stephen Murdoch (48) had Wellington off to a good start, putting on 102 for the first wicket but, as partnerships go, that was Wellington's only decent co-operative effort.

Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons wasn't happy, feeling they were about 100 runs short of "where we really want to be so two weeks in the shed won't probably get us another hundred".

"We'll try to work hard to get 50 and another bonus point and leave them with about 90 or 80 lead and see where we go from there. Yeah, game on," the Australian said, lamenting his batsmen's inability to forge partnerships with Ryder.

"But there were a few things going on - a change of a new ball that started to swing - so it was unfortunate for us and we couldn't stop it and kept losing wickets.

"That's all it takes. A little thing goes in favour of the bowling team and away they went so we just didn't handle it well enough," he said, lauding CD bowlers for using the new ball well.

"I think we only need 40 runs and we'll have a great game of cricket on with two days of cricket to play.

"We'll eat a bit of time out from the game, make a few runs and it'll be up to Central Districts to see how they want to play the game."

CD coach Alan Hunt said: "We would rather us than them with a 134 or 135 lead".

"It's an interesting one because we want to take the two wickets reasonably early without too much damage so the bigger the lead the better."

Hunt said if Siddons thought a lead of 90 odd was insignificant, then he begged to differ.

Hunt felt CD's bowling was patchy.

"I didn't think we hit any consistent partnerships with the ball. There was always a relief ball and not too many maidens and players were able to get off strike too easily," he said, after the initial breakthrough came from Noema-Barnett trapping both openers lbw to trigger off a collapse that saw Mike Pollard, Grant Elliott, Luke Woodcock, Luke Ronchi and Jeetan Patel depart cheaply.

"To pick up the two wickets before tea were critical and then to get the six wickets in the next session were also very good so I can't really fault the day in terms of the scoreboard but we can be better," he said but was hoping for CD to kick to 400-plus with the bat.

"We were looking for a bonus point at 350 ... which was achievable with smart cricket but I think we sort of tried to get a little bit cute."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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