Rain threatens to turn University Oval into a water tank as Central Districts search for their first Plunket Shield victory of the season against Otago today in Dunedin.

Stags assistant coach Lance Hamilton said the team travelled south on Wednesday morning, but their training and preparation for the match had already been interrupted by wet weather, while fast bowling spearhead Doug Bracewell is unavailable after suffering a groin strain while training with the Black Caps.

The forecast for Dunedin during the next four days indicates periods of rain with southwesterlies, however today is the best day of the forecast with northerlies providing some relief.

"The pitch has been under covers, and looks pretty green, but we will just have to wait and see how it looks on the first morning to see what we do," said Hamilton.


He did however suggest bowling first would be the preferred option if CD won the toss.

The Volts meanwhile are coming off their first loss of the season to Wellington in Invercargill last week and sit third on the points table after four rounds.

The southerners still boast a strong team despite missing Hamish Rutherford, Brendon McCullum and Neil Wagner who are all away on Black Caps duty.

The in form and controversial Jesse Ryder will again be an important player for Otago's chances, as will former Black Caps batsman Aaron Redmond and Neil Broom, while New Zealand ODI and T20 allrounders Nathan McCullum and Jimmy Neesham will prove a handful with both bat and ball.

Ryder, a former Napier Boys High School student, plundered 83 in the first innings against his former team last week, which included 17 boundaries.

His impressive return to first class cricket, since he was brutally assaulted in Christchurch and banned for six months for consuming a banned substance, has seen scores of 120, 80 and 83 from his last three Plunket Shield matches.

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17 Dec, 2013 5:00am
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Stags fast bowler Ben Wheeler said Ryder will be one of the key wickets he hoped the CD bowlers could snag early.

"He punished us last year in both the four day games but the thing with Jesse is you can't afford to back down.

"When he starts going after you, you have to meet him front on with some aggression of your own.

"You've got to take all ten wickets though.

"Their top order and their middle order a pretty strong and quite aggressive, Redmond has been in good form and was just recalled to the Black Caps and Michael Bracewell has already scored two hundreds this year."

He said the inclement weather around the ground may help the seam bowlers and make it tough for batsman to score runs.

"It's normally pretty low and slow down here, it was low and slow during the recent test match and it probably won't change too much."

The left arm seamer said he was pleased to find some consistency with his bowling last week after picking up figures of 3-56 and 2-30 and a useful 68 with the bat.

"I was struggling at the start of the season with consistency so I'm starting to feel a bit better and the runs just seem to be coming and coming out of the middle."

The 22-year-old, who took his 50th first class wicket against Auckland, said the squad was "confident" they would pick up their first win and leave Dunedin with an early Christmas present, providing the weather holds out.

"We played most of the cricket against Auckland and we felt pretty unlucky not to get a win, so we feel pretty good going into this game."

The Stags will be buoyed following a much improved performance against Auckland last week in Napier after they came within four wickets of victory on day four on a flat Nelson Park pitch.

CD remains fifth on the six team ladder with 22 competition points, just one point ahead of the last placed Auckland Aces.

Otago v Central Districts at Dunedin

*Central Districts squad for the match - 12th man to be named at the toss today.
*Jamie How, Ben Smith, Carl Cachopa, Will Young, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Peter Trego, Kruger van Wyk, Tarun Nethula, Adam Milne, Ben Wheeler, Ajaz Patel, Roald Badenhorst.