Difficult batting wicket at Napier's McLean Park

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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Wellington will get a result out of their match against Central Districts - it's just a matter of being on the right side of it.

Successive draws have stalled their run towards the Plunket Shield title. But McLean Park has thrown up a rare minefield and getting this game to a third day would be some achievement, in the mind of Firebirds left-armer Andy McKay.

If Wellington are to be the winners, then their bowlers have plenty of work in front of them. First, to stop CD short of the 172 the Firebirds made batting first and then to wrap things up in the last innings.

Wellington had hoped to lose the toss yesterday morning, such was their indecision about the pitch. Instead they won it and, after plenty of debate, captain James Franklin took the reluctant step of saying "we'll bat".

At lunch that looked all right, with the Firebirds 118 for two. But they were soon 172 all out. The saving grace was that CD went to stumps at 103 for five, on a pitch that McKay says is not flash for batting.

"It'll nibble around all game and get harder to bat on. I think the wicket will break up more and the spinners will come into more as the game goes on," McKay said.

"The bowlers had a chat at the start of this game and realised that it's us three seamers [himself, Gillespie and Arnel] that are the ones that have to take it on our shoulders. We have spent a lot of time in the park this summer, and we realise that, so we need to be better at what we're doing."

Expecting much from the batsmen, he said, would be silly on this wicket.

"If we get 250, that'll be a great score in the second innings and set the game up really well. It's a wicket you really have to battle on and Josh's [Josh Brodie] 50 was awesome today, he battled really hard and it's going to be those tough, ugly 30s that'll get us to 250," said McKay.

In for the injured Michael Pollard, Brodie put on 68 for the first wicket with Michael Papps, who made 45 of those. But once Brodie was out for 51, at 119 for three, no-one was particularly adhesive.

Kieran Noema-Barnett (four for 26) showed Wellington exactly what length to bowl and they did their best to copy. Gillespie got Ben Smith and Jamie How out early, before McKay trapped both Will Young and Greg Hay lbw.

McKay had been short and wide early on, and went at seven an over. But Franklin persevered with him and the rewards came.

With Craig Cachopa and Kruger van Wyk at the crease, and Doug Bracewell to come, CD still have some batting and McKay and company can't afford a sluggish start this morning.

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- The Dominion Post

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