Braces to the power of two

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor


CD Stags v Canterbury

Day 2, Plunket Shield

Rangiora

COACH Alan Hunt wanted Doug Bracewell to deliver with the bat, too, and he did yesterday albeit not entirely to the Black Caps' own lofty standards.

"I haven't done much. I could have done a little bit more," Bracewell said last night after top scoring with 61 runs in Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags' first innings.

CD's total of 249 all out in 77 overs fell three runs shy of the Canterbury Wizards' effort in the first dig thus leaving the four-day Plunket Shield match evenly poised on day three today.

When plays resumes today, No 3 Henry Nicholls and No 4 Dean Brownlie will carry on in the hosts' second dig of 55-2 with unbeaten 19 and 27, respectively.

Yesterday, though, belonged to the Gary Stead-coached Wizards who negated any advantage the Stags might have envisioned on the foundation of Bracewell's superb 7-35 on Thursday with fellow opener Andrew Lamb tightening the screws from the other end to help skittle the opposition for what appears to be a par score.

Yesterday the CD top five batsmen made double-figure starts but failed to convert them into something to write home about.

Bracewell also chastised himself after carving up six boundaries and a six in his half ton before holing out to Matt McEwan from a Ben McCord delivery.

"I could have batted a bit longer so I again got to 60 odd before getting myself out a little softly," he said as the Stags conceded a bonus point.

"I hit one straight to mid off. I should have played the ball a little late but I threw my hand out a bit more," said the player who has yet to score a domestic ton after agonisingly getting to 97 last summer.

Captain Kieran Noema-Barnett forged an innings-saving partnership with his former flatmate and fellow premier grade men's Taradale Cricket Club player.

"Barney was in there and looking good and the wicket wasn't too bad and we needed a partnership and we got it but it's disappointing we didn't go on," Bracewell said of No 5 Noema-Barnett who scored 57 runs, including five fours and one over the rope.

Letting bygones be bygones, he said the focus today was on stifling the Cantabrians to another paltry total.

"What's done is done so we just need to keep [knocking over] those poles.

"There's a lot of cricket left with 200 overs to go in the game."

He lauded Lamb for maintaining his discipline from the first dig.

"Lambie started off well again today and bowled in good areas so he got wickets," he said of the opening seamer who sent test hopeful Peter Fulton and ex-CD opener George Worker back to the pavilion for five and four runs, respectively.

Former Wellington Firebird Lamb picked up a hamstring injury before Christmas but, frustratingly, strained it soon after so Hunt and physiotherapist made a decision not to rush him back to risk further injury with just two rounds to go to lifting the shield and the Otago Volts nipping at the Stags' heels.

An unbeaten century from night-watchman Nick Beard against the Auckland Aces yesterday left the Volts in a promising position.

They trail CD by 13 points heading into the penultimate round and have trimmed that deficit in claiming first-innings bonus points.

Victory this weekend will see them leapfrog the Stags to the top rung.

Daniel Flynn, eyeing Brendon McCullum's opening spot in the test side when the skipper drops down to the middle order, put the heat on Fulton with a century for Northern Districts Knights in the match against the Firebirds in Whangarei.

Flynn scored 102, his 14th first-class ton, as the Knights ended the day on 344-6, still trailing Wellington's first innings total of 423.

ND play CD in the last round next week.

Happy with his frugality in the first-innings while Bracewell yielded dividends, Lamb said playing the waiting game was all he could do until he got the green light to play in this round.

The Mainpower Oval wicket, he said, was dead and not offering much bounce and carry even on the first day but it was showing some character before stumps.

"The gremlins are creeping in. The balls are turning big and tufts of dust and dirt so tomorrow will be interesting," the 34-year-old said.

In that case, spinners Tarun Nethula and Ajaz Patel should come into play.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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