Who is New Zealand's most in-form batsman?
While Jesse Ryder would be a fair guess, the answer is actually little-known Central Districts No 3 Carl Cachopa.
The South Africa-born 26-year-old had done little to catch the eye before 2012 but his personal best 179 not out against Auckland yesterday continued a stellar calendar year.
Cachopa has now scored Plunket Shield centuries in five of his last six first-class matches, with a wash-out at Karori Park in March the only miss, as he didn't get to bat.
Either side of that he's hit 108, 151, 111 and 105 before yesterday leading CD to a dominant 430-9 declared at Napier's Nelson Park.
"He's found the recipe to success, that's for sure," CD coach Alan Hunt said.
"He works hard at it, keeps it pretty simple and he's in a rich vein of form. He's found a way to forget about what's happened in the past. He just starts again and if he plays a false shot he puts it behind him, signs that ball off and waits for the next one. So he's got a process and it works for him."
Cachopa - one of three brothers playing first-class cricket in New Zealand along with Brad (Canterbury) and Craig (Auckland) - hit 23 fours and one six in a 297-ball stay while no other Stags batsman reached 50.
His hard graft allowed CD to set attacking fields and former Wellington fast bowler Andrew Lamb, on debut for the Stags, seized his opportunity.
The 34-year-old took three Auckland wickets in a game-changing over, removing Lou Vincent, Reece Young and Anaru Kitchen to leave the visitors reeling at 14-3.
Lamb ended day two with 3-33 as Gareth Hopkins (27 not out) and Tim McIntosh (17 not out) began the rebuilding job with Auckland 80-4 at stumps.
"He's not a young tearaway, he's an experienced bowler and he bowled full and in the right areas right from the start," Hunt said.
"We're in a good position, but lots of work to do. They've got a couple of guys in at the moment that are pretty gritty and have got very good records in their own right. So we've got to break this partnership and try and open up an end."
CD opened the season with a five-wicket loss to Wellington but Hunt said they had tossed that result away as virtually irrelevant.
"In a lot of ways we were beaten by one man [Ryder, who scored twin tons]. We did a lot right in that game and were ahead 80 per cent of the time and ended up losing. So we didn't dwell on having lost because there were a lot of positives to come out of it."
Meanwhile, Northern Districts and Otago are locked in a tight tussle after two days at Hamilton's Seddon Park.
James Marshall and Daniel Flynn will resume today with ND 120-2 in their second innings and holding an overall lead of 26.
Otago's Jimmy Neesham posted 124, his maiden first-class ton, while ND seamer Brent Arnel captured his 200th first-class wicket as he finished with the fine figures of 5-74.
Otago's Ian Butler is also having a big game, whacking a brisk 61 not out to go with a bowling aggregate of 5-70 so far.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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