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Hard slog for Otago against firing Wellington

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2012

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Otago coach Vaughn Johnson admits his side face an uphill task against a red-hot Wellington side in the HRV Cup in Dunedin today.

The difficulty of the task at University Oval is highlighted by the call-up of four Otago players for the Black Caps.

Johnson's side will be missing Brendon and Nathan McCullum, Jimmy Neesham and Derek de Boorder until round five, in January; with the younger McCullum remaining in South Africa for his first nudge at test captaincy.

Conversely, Wellington have a batting line-up in smoking hot form, with former Black Cap Jesse Ryder firing, while the likes of former Australian international Luke Ronchi and young seamer Scott Kuggeleijn have been making runs in the four-day game.

"We've got a tough ask, but we're on our home deck," Johnson told the Sunday Star-Times.

"On paper we are not as strong as some sides, but we've got that Otago will and a couple of good players in Ryan ten Doeschate, and the rest of the squad. We'll just slip under the radar hopefully and see how we go."

Today's clash begins a month-long banquet of Twenty20 cricket for New Zealand domestic sides, culminating in the HRV Cup final on January 20.

The tournament winner gets a ticket to next year's Twenty20 Champions Trophy.

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