Papps' availability offers Firebirds some hope

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013

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Michael Papps will open the batting for Wellington when their turn comes to chase down 300-odd to beat Canterbury at Rangiora.

The Firebirds' mainstay ended up in hospital on Wednesday afternoon, after injuring his right little finger while taking a catch off James Franklin. He couldn't bat that night, as Wellington plunged to 27-6 by stumps, but eventually came in at nine yesterday and made 44 not out as the Firebirds scrambled to 130 all out in reply to Canterbury's 233.

With the hosts resuming their second innings at 192-6 this morning - giving them an overall lead of 285 - Wellington could even end up needing 400 to claim the outright win.

But at least they'll have Papps out there after X-rays allayed the initial fears that his finger was broken.

"It sounds like I've injured some ligaments and flared up an old fracture, so it's just a bit painful. There's no new break," Papps said.

But there's still plenty of swelling around the knuckle, which made it difficult to grip the bat or impart much power into his shots.

Wellington will need him at his best on a Mainpower Oval pitch where the new ball is proving hard to negotiate. If you can survive it, Papps said it's then a matter of pitching your tent and batting as long as possible.

The wicket isn't coming on and it's dry nature is making the ball reverse, so Wellington are unlikely to blast their way to victory once their second turn at bat comes.

"We're still in the match and as long as we can bowl well tomorrow and keep them under a 350 lead, that'll give us a chance of winning. There's still a long time to go," said Papps.

Left-armer Andy McKay was again the pick of Wellington's bowlers yesterday, taking three of Canterbury's wickets to go with the four he snared in their first innings. McKay's 3-23 came in 14 overs and he got the ball to reverse appreciably, Papps said.

Meanwhile, the highly-fancied Wellington women's side begin their campaign against Canterbury at Hagley Oval today. Their opening Twenty20 clash is followed by 50-over clashes with Canterbury at Hagley Park tomorrow and then Mainpower Oval on Sunday.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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