Cricket: Openers lead Auckland charge

By David Leggat

Jeet Raval combined with fellow opener Michael Guptill-Bunce to advance Auckland's cause. Photo / Getty
Jeet Raval combined with fellow opener Michael Guptill-Bunce to advance Auckland's cause. Photo / Getty

Auckland openers Jeet Raval and Michael Guptill-Bunce have turned an awkward situation into a position of strength in their top of the table Plunket Shield clash at the Basin Reserve.

The leaders will start the third day at 149 without loss in their second innings, Guptill-Bunce on 79 and Raval on 66.

That has Auckland ahead overall by 65 with two days remaining. It's a far cry from the situation at the end of Wellington's first innings.

Having rolled Auckland for 152, Wellington were dismissed for 236, Michael Pollard making 68, to hold a lead of 84. Guptill-Bunce and Raval's work turned the contest around to their team mates' delight.

Guptill-Bunce, a cousin of the New Zealand opener, scored his maiden first-class ton earlier this season; Raval will be contemplating his 14th first-class century.

The pick of Auckland's attack in Wellington's innings was seamer Lockie Ferguson, who followed eight wickets in the win over Otago in the previous round with five for 37, his fourth bag of five or more wickets in a first-class innings.

Ferguson also helped Auckland grab the maximum four bowling bonus points in what could yet be a tight run to the title.

Legspinner Tarun Nethula snared his 100th first-class wicket when dismissing Fraser Colson; while wicketkeeper Brad Cachopa took six catches in Wellington's innings, equalling the record for Auckland held by former captain Gareth Hopkins, who did it twice, and Reece Young.

The second day of Otago's match against Central Districts in Dunedin was a washout, with Otago starting day three on four for two in reply to CD's 258.

Rain cut short the second day in Canterbury's match against Northern Districts in Christchurch. Canterbury moved from their overnight eight for one to 150 for six, Peter Fulton making 58 and Andrew Ellis 43, in reply to ND's 185.

Promising fast bowler Zak Gibson has taken three for 42.

- NZ Herald

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