Firebirds struggling against Otago

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013

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It looks like Central Districts will have to win the Plunket Shield on their own.

The competition-leading Stags had hoped Wellington might give them a bit of breathing room by beating second-placed Otago at the Basin Reserve.

But on the basis of the first day's play it appears as if the Firebirds will be battling to deny Otago anything other than maximum points.

Sent in on a slightly two-paced, but otherwise placid Basin pitch, Wellington wilted from a promising 99 for none to be all out for 255 in just 68.1 overs. By stumps Otago were 113 for two, having rattled on their runs at almost five an over.

Opener Michael Papps (63) was the only Wellington batsman to register a half-century and was at a loss to explain his team's meek performance.

"That old demon of losing wickets in clumps came back to haunt us," said Papps.

"You know, three or four quickly just before lunch stalled our momentum when we were on top to a certain extent, having been about a hundred without loss.

"So it was disappointing not to kick on from there and then we kept losing wickets throughout the afternoon."

Papps described Otago's attack as "steady away" and certainly not life-threatening.

"These guys are obviously looking to win the competition and we knew they'd come out with a lot of intensity and obviously we're out of this competition, but we're still trying to maintain our standards," he said.

Whether they did that is open for discussion. First appearances would suggest that they probably didn't with the bat.

With the ball, Wellington's bowlers went searching a bit before stumps. There was the odd good delivery, but not an obvious method or plan and consequently quite a lot for the Otago batsmen to hit.

Opener Aaron Redmond gleefully accepted the bulk of it, cutting and driving his way to 60 not out off 70 balls.

Wellington might not have been rising to the occasion, but CD made a useful fist of that against Northern Districts at Nelson.

Having inserted ND, the Stags took wickets at regular intervals to restrict the visitors to 267.

The four-pronged pace attack of Doug Bracewell, Ben Wheeler, Andrew Lamb and Andrew Mathieson all claimed scalps, before Jeet Raval and Jamie How took CD to the close on 46 without loss.

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- The Dominion Post

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