Plucky Patel defiant for Wellington

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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Brave batting by Jeetan Patel has enabled Wellington to drag their Plunket Shield game against Otago into a final day.

Patel's recent struggles against fast bowling have been painful to watch and Otago made every effort to make him relive them yesterday. Neil Wagner, who reportedly peppered Patel in the Port Elizabeth nets while the two were touring South Africa with the Black Caps, tried more of the same at the Basin Reserve.

But Patel stood firm, going to stumps on 53 not out from 112 balls. His knock helped Wellington get through to 308-9 and a lead of 185.

That should be too few runs to defend today, but it's still a rosier picture than looked likely when Patel joined Scott Kuggeleijn at 185-7.

The pair added 99 for the eighth wicket before Kuggeleijn nicked out to Wagner for 68.

Patel started with his dancing shoes on as Wagner, Sam Wells, Ian Butler and Jacob Duffy all tried to bounce him out. But by the time he'd made 20, Patel was getting into line with everything and middling all his defensive shots.

He finished the day by cover driving Wagner for four and then neatly hooking him to fine leg.

"He showed a lot of courage today. I know he's been battling with a few demons and that's pretty obvious but he worked really hard," Kuggeleijn said.

Kuggeleijn's own knock was top drawer, confirming his status as an emerging all-rounder. His season average now sits in excess of 40 and he was equally stoic in the face of some hostile bowling from Wagner.

"I like to think I'd never back down to that sort of stuff. I prefer to get hurt and keep batting than look like a pussy and get out," he said.

Luke Ronchi won't wicketkeep for Wellington today after suffering tightness in a previously injured hamstring.

There is no word yet on whether that will rule him out of captaining the New Zealand XI against England in a four-day game starting in Queenstown on Wednesday.

At Nelson, Northern Districts lead Central Districts by 134 runs with four second innings wickets in hand, while Canterbury beat Auckland by nine wickets in Christchurch.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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