Murdoch's timely ton brings lead

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2013

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Stephen Murdoch got back in the runs yesterday, scoring his fifth first-class hundred to keep Wellington in their clash with Canterbury at the Basin Reserve.

The Firebirds skipper had been averaging 19.16 for the Plunket Shield summer, but had a useful match double of 48 and 40 in his team's innings loss to Otago a week ago.

Wellington weren't quite on the brink at the Basin yesterday, at 22 for two, but Canterbury's first innings of 329 for nine declared was looking a wee way off.

Thankfully Murdoch was able to fashion partnerships of 131 with Jesse Ryder for the third wicket, then 119 for the fifth with Luke Ronchi, which helped the Firebirds to a first innings lead of 27 by the time they were bowled out for 356.

Both Ryder and Ronchi went at roughly a run-a-ball during their innings of 78 and 95, respectively. For Ronchi it was a timely hand, given he'd found out before he went in to bat that selection in the New Zealand XI to meet England in Whangarei next week was as close as he'd be getting to international cricket for now.

He wouldn't have been astounded to learn he'd missed out on a place in New Zealand's Twenty20 and one-day teams, but it would have been a disappointment all the same.

The most pleasing hand was Murdoch's. Runs have been elusive in his first campaign as captain and, while his place in the side hasn't been in jeopardy, a leader feels more in charge when they've got some form on the board.

Canterbury were left with a tricky 13 overs to negotiate before stumps, which they managed without loss. Peter Fulton and George Worker will resume this morning with their side 16 runs ahead with two days to play.

At Eden Park's Outer Oval, competition leaders Central Districts lead Auckland by 271 with four second innings wickets in hand, heading into the final day of their match. Jamie How made 124 as the Stags reached 386 for six, while Ross Taylor nicked out to Chris Martin on 21.

Meanwhile, Northern Districts lead Otago by 39 runs with seven second innings wickets in hand after two days of the match at Queenstown.

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- The Dominion Post

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