Cricket: Watling ton sets up intriguing final day

BJ Watling. Photo / Getty Images
BJ Watling. Photo / Getty Images

A century from New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling has set up an intriguing final day in Northern District's Plunket Shield clash with Auckland at Seddon Park.

Watling, who also made a ton in the recent test series against Bangladesh, helped his side to a lead of 397 runs with one wicket remaining, leaving all three results in play heading into today's fourth day.

After coming to the crease with the Knights on 104-3 and holding an overall lead of 117 runs, Watling brought up his century from 143 balls before falling for 114 as the home side reached 384-9.

The wicketkeeper enjoyed good partnerships with opener Brad Wilson (74) and Dan Vettori (23), completing an impressive match with the bat after scoring 90 in the first innings.

Earlier, Auckland began the morning on 277-9 after Vettori ripped through them for a five-wicket bag on day two, needing a revival from their last wicket partnership to accrue a second batting bonus point.

Donovan Grobelaar did just that, helping the Aces to 302 and bringing up a half century on his first class debut with a six off Vettori. No 11 Tipene Friday was eventually dismissed by Graeme Aldridge, leaving Grobelaar unbeaten on 58 and handing the hosts a 13-run first-innings lead.

Dean Bartlett got Auckland off to a good start in the Knights' second innings, getting captain Daniel Flynn caught behind in the sixth over. But Wilson and Joe Carter put together a decent stand for the second wicket, advancing ND to 104 before Black Caps spinner Bruce Martin struck twice in the space of three balls.

That brought Watling to the crease, where he hit 20 boundaries during a four-hour stay, eventually ended by Matt Quinn. Ish Sodhi enjoyed a typically brisk 14-ball 33 before being run out in the last over of the day to leave Aldridge and James Baker at the crease.

Auckland will begin the final day with hopes of a quick wicket to set up an achievable chase, while both sides will come away with six bonus points if the match is drawn.

Meanwhile, Jesse Ryder's Twenty20 season didn't get off to a great start, dismissed for one in Otago's encounter with Canterbury at Hagley Oval last night.

- APNZ

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