Cricket: Sinclair stays cool to finish Auckland

By Bob Pearce

Central Districts' Mathew Sinclair Photo / APN
Central Districts' Mathew Sinclair Photo / APN

After finishing the first half of the Plunket Shield season with just two points, Auckland will be hoping for a better return when they begin their Twenty20 campaign at Colin Maiden Park next Friday.

In their second home game of the four-day series, they lost yesterday by six wickets to Central Districts, who head the shield table with a perfect 24 points from three games. The series resumes in February.

Chasing 186 for victory, Central began the day at 98 for one with opener Peter Ingram 65 not out. He was bowled for 76 by Gareth Shaw, who also took Brad Patton for 46.

First-innings century-maker Tim Weston went cheaply but Mathew Sinclair with 35 steered Central home in the 29th over of the day. They will be back in Auckland for the 5pm Twenty20 game on Friday.

Auckland coach Paul Strang recalled that his team had a poor return from the first part of the Plunket Shield last season but bounced back in the shorter forms of the game.

"It's a clean sheet," he said. "We've got players with a lot of talent and it's a chance for them to perform.

"In this game, we too often lost wickets at critical moments but there were enough good things for me not to be too unhappy."

National selector Glenn Turner watched the action for a couple of days, diplomatically saying he was "watching 22 players". But in the context of future selections he might have noted:

Sinclair is yet again in tidy form with 135 runs for once out.

Ingram's minimal foot movement yields heaps of runs when the tracks are flat but is less effective when the ball moves about.

Michael Bates bowled a couple of spells of impressive left-arm pace while CD seem to have an inexhaustible supply of medium pace.

Kruger Van Wyk was tidy behind the stumps but will need to show more with the bat if he is to be a contender.

Plunket Shield champions Northern Districts had a day off to contemplate their thrashing by Canterbury at Whangarei. They begin the Twenty20 series with a 6pm game at Seddon Park against Central Districts on Thursday.

At the Basin Reserve, Wellington started the day pressing for an outright win against Otago but when stumps were pulled, they would have been happy just to stave off an outright loss after their batsmen again got the final-innings jitters.

Otago's lower order, which had already fired late on day three, provided stubborn resistance.

Keeper Derek de Boorder, who was at the crease for nearly five hours, hit 62 while Neil Wagner's 55, and an unbeaten 36 from No 11 Warren McSkimming, also helped. Otago posted another 99 runs to be all out for 426, setting Wellington an unlikely 314 to win in 74 overs.

That target became unthinkable when the hosts fell to 20 for three and then 41 for four as their brittle top-order batting succumbed. A late scramble staved off defeat as Wellington claimed the two points for a first-innings victory.

Additional reporting NZPA

- NZ Herald

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