Let's hope take two goes better.
Wellington fluffed their lines, first time round at Karori Park, after inserting Northern Districts on a green pitch yesterday morning.
If ND were expecting a stern examination in the first hour of the Plunket Shield clash, they didn't get it. Long hops and half-volleys, yes, but little that suggested the Firebirds were intent on utilising the conditions to their full.
A better second hour stemmed the flow of runs, before a stalemate, bad light and then rain. Play came to a halt in the second session and didn't resume and ND will, hopefully, come out this morning at 169-2.
Today's forecast isn't flash but, assuming play does get underway, the Firebirds need to do better with a pitch that will have livened up under the covers.
"Weather forecast, tinge of green, [wanting] a run chase on the last day all pointed to bowl first, to me. But we bowled poorly this morning," Wellington coach Jamie Siddons said.
"We bowled OK that second hour, but that's not good enough. We want to start well, finish well. If we put it in good areas, we're pretty confident we can bowl them out, but we've got to bowl better."
ND opener Daniel Flynn was the early beneficiary. He went well in excess of a run-a-ball and was especially severe on Andy McKay.
A change of ends from Mark Gillespie got Wellington back into things, as he bowled Brad Wilson, before captain James Franklin coaxed a nick from Flynn on 70. ND dug in at that point and honours remained pretty even until the bad light arrived.
The third-placed Firebirds have lacked luck and killer instinct of late and, like a lot of teams still in the Plunket Shield title race, need a good swag of points out of this match.
Almost anyone could win the competition from here, with just this game and two more to follow.
"It's critical that we push hard for it [an outright win] no matter what it takes," Siddons said.
The coach added that he could tolerate the team leaking runs, as long as they were bowling consistently.
Batsmen are entitled to play good shots, as Flynn did, but Siddons says his bowlers must stop giving away freebies.
In their defence, Wellington's bowlers felt they were hampered by a ball which went out of shape early and wouldn't swing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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