Otago v CD Stags
Plunket Shield, Dunedin
IT WAS his 36th first-class century yesterday and, Mathew Sinclair suspected, perhaps the maiden one he has carved up in Dunedin in any format or even at international level.
But the 37-year-old Devon Hotel Central Districts player kept it in perspective, not the slightest bit tempted to embellish an enviable run of remarkable achievements that keep popping up everywhere he asks for middle and leg in the four-day Plunket Shield matches.
"It's quite pleasing to tick another one off but it was a tough day all round. Yes, I'd call it a day of patience," said The Station Napier Old Boys Marist veteran after he scored 142 from 221 balls, including 19 boundaries and two sixes, while occupying the crease for 302 minutes at the University Oval, Dunedin.
It was one fewer run than his 143 against the Wellington Firebirds in the opening round at Nelson Park, Napier, early last month as part of a 224-run, third-wicket stand with fellow century-maker Carl Cachopa - a CD record against Wellington.
Sinclair, who has scored at least one first-class ton in each of the past 10 domestic summers, said last night the wicket was low and slow and the scuffed ball tested his patience as CD were all out for 449 in their first innings in reply to the Otago Volts' 427.
His timely knock pushed him past Stephen Fleming and Ken Rutherford to sixth in the country's all-time list after stand-in skipper Jamie How (64 runs) and Cachopa (55) provided the platform for the Stags' innings.
Third-placed Otago were 37-1 with Sinclair catching Hamish Rutherford off a Jeet Raval delivery.
With Auckland thumping Canterbury by seven wickets at Eden Park outer oval yesterday to leapfrog Otago to second place behind CD, a drawn affair in Dunedin will suit them to the hilt.
Having played straight for his ton, Sinclair conceded CD needed to keep on batting although partnerships were vital. He also rued letting the hosts off the hook with some poor bowling.
"We gave them too much width and square off the wicket rather than making them play straight down the wicket, which will give us a chance to trap them lbw," he said, although he felt the Volts were guilty of setting a defensive field.
In keeping with the mould of the Alan Hunt-coached CD of fighting to the bitter end with suggestions of a draw, Sinclair said they had to go out today with "good intent" to put Otago on the back foot.
With the wicket breaking up a little and offering some turn, he felt left-arm orthodox spinner Ajaz Patel, who took 4-86 at three runs an over, would be the game breaker with Raval if the Stags were to bowl them frugally out once more for an outright win to maintain a healthy lead on the top run at the halfway stage of the competition.
How is also an offspin option, having last rolled his arm against the Volts at Nelson Park.
The Aces made light work of their fourth-innings chase, cruising to the target of 219 for the loss of three and with more than two sessions remaining, according to an APNZ report. The win was built largely on just the second 10-wicket haul of Kyle Mills' 15-year first class career, with the New Zealand seamer combining with Bruce Martin (5-45) to skittle Canterbury for 120 yesterday. That saw the Wizards cede any advantage they had accrued earlier in the match and, after Auckland had raced to 153-2 at stumps, the hosts began today well in control.
Half centuries from Tim McIntosh (77no) and Craig Cachopa (57) ensured there was no fourth-day magic from the Wizards, with Auckland requiring only 12.4 overs to bring up the 66 runs needed.
Northern Districts will fancy their chances of securing maximum points against Wellington after forcing the hosts to follow on at Karori Park.
With all of day two washed out, the Knights' bowlers made up for lost time yesterday and left Wellington holding a slim seven-run lead with four wickets in hand after Tim Southee's five-wicket bag helped dismiss the hosts for 206 with Luke Ronchi's (113) second ton of the season the highlight.