Plunket Shield: Auckland and Wellington face intriguing battle

By David Leggat

Hamish Marshall - seen here playing for ND - is in the runs for Wellington. Photo / Photosport.
Hamish Marshall - seen here playing for ND - is in the runs for Wellington. Photo / Photosport.

Auckland and Wellington face an intriguing battle prospect in the search for maximum points when their third round Plunket Shield match concludes at Eden Park tomorrow.

Wellington will pick up their second innings at 99 for two, with former test batsman Hamish Marshall on 58 and Stephen Murdoch on 31.

That gives them an overall lead of 200 on a good batting pitch. The first session will be crucial to how the match may play out. It will turn into a time and runs equation with Wellington wanting to give themselves enough time to dismiss Auckland.

Wellington opener Luke Woodcock felt the vagaries of the game, following his first innings 203 with a first ball duck, squaring round on a Cody Andrews delivery which took a leading edge to gully.

Michael Guptill-Bunce pressed on from his overnight 66 not out to make 109 off 139 balls, his third first-class ton, while seamer Matt McEwan took four for 80.

Northern Districts need three Canterbury wickets to wrap up a win at Seddon Park in Hamilton, while the visitors require a further 78 runs. The game was trimmed to just a couple of hours by rain today.

Wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher, on 19, has the tail to work with. The odds favour ND, for whom Scott Kuggeleijn and test spinner Ish Sodhi have two wickets apiece.

Central Districts will start the final day needing 393 with nine wickets standing to beat bottom side Otago in Dunedin.

A brisk 110 off 107 balls by former test opener Hamish Rutherford - his second century of the shield season and 10th altogether in first-class cricket - put the push into Otago's second innings as they made good progress to reach 213 for seven before declaring.

Rutherford and Brad Wilson, another in strong form this season, put on 101 for the first wicket after Otago had gained a 186-run lead on the first innings.

CD started the day on 80 for four and got to 216, of which Tom Bruce made 83 and Dane Cleaver 50. Otago wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder claimed five dismissals in the innings.

- NZ Herald

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