Otago well placed thanks to Aaron Redmond
Aaron Redmond ended the day just 20 runs shy of a deserved century, having significantly advanced the Otago Volts' first innings run chase on day two of their Plunket Shield cricket match against the Central Stags in Nelson today.
The Volts opener ended the day on 80 not out with Otago well-placed at 169 for 2 off 40 overs in reply to the Stags' 307, a threatening Jesse Ryder was with him, unbeaten on 40.
Redmond smashed left arm spinner Ajaz Patel back over his head for six to bring up his 50 off 77 balls and faced 115 balls and hit 12 fours in total.
The Volts had previously been forced to dig deep after injury had hobbled both their opening bowlers.
Having already lost Blair Soper to a pulled hamstring early on Friday at Saxton Oval, the Otago players then watched in disbelief during today's second session as James McMillan also pulled up lame just as he was about to bowl his 10th delivery with the new ball.
A depleted but dogged Volts attack still showed plenty of grit to eventually dismiss the Stags for 307, seamer Jimmy Neesham shouldering an added workload to finish with 4 for 79.
Offspinner Nathan McCullum took 3 for 36.
Only 32.3 overs had been possible on Friday due to rain as the Stags went to stumps at 93 for 1.
Resuming today on 43, Ben Smith eventually brought up his seventh first class 50 when he late cut McMillan to the third man boundary for four, his ninth of the innings.
He'd add only one more run before he edged Neesham to Ryder at first slip, his 54-run innings lasting 139 balls.
It ended a productive 111-run second wicket partnership with Carl Cachopa, Smith's dismissal carrying the score through to 117 for 2.
Neesham struck again the very next ball when Will Young flashed outside his off stump and was caught by Mark Craig at third slip for a first ball duck.
Greg Hay denied Neesham his hat-trick although the Volts were soon back in business, Cachopa edging Sam Wells off an attempted drive and he was gone for 49 at 121 for 4.
Cachopa faced 122 balls and hit six fours.
Hay and Kieran Noema-Barnett then began the long and steady rebuilding process, the pair carrying the score through to 212 for 4 at lunch.
That was also enough time for Noema-Barnett to bring up his eighth first class half century, the Stags skipper glancing McCullum for two to fine leg to reach his milestone.
Hay had also looked well set to post his half century when he edged McCullum through to wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder on 45 to end their crucial 114-run fifth wicket stand at 235 for 5.
Hay's 99-ball innings included just four boundaries.
Then disaster struck for Otago, McMillan also pulling up lame midway through his 19th over.
However, any desperation in the Volts camp was eased soon afterwards when Neesham claimed the prized scalp of Noema-Barnett, caught behind for 74 at 257 for 6, his 125-ball innings including 12 fours.
Kruger van Wyk went cheaply for nine before a handy 47-run eighth wicket stand between Tarun Nethula (19 not out) and Bevan Small (29) edged the score past 300, the final wicket falling on the stroke of tea at 307.
By stumps, Otago had lost opener Neil Broom, bowled by Seth Rance for 12 and Michael Bracewell caught at midwicket off Carl Cachopa for 35 to end a promising 76-run partnership with Redmond at 90 for 2.
CENTRAL STAGS 1st innings (continued at 93 for 1)
J How b McMillan 5
B Smith c Ryder b Neesham 54
C Cachopa c Ryder b Wells 49
W Young c Craig b Neesham 0
G Hay c de Boorder b McCullum 45
K Noema-Barnett c de Boorder b Neesham 74
K van Wyk c de Boorder b Wells 9
T Nethula not out 19
B Small c de Boorder b McCullum 29
S Rance c Neesham b McCullum 2
A Patel c Craig b Neesham 0
Extras (8b, 12lb, 1nb) 21
Total (97.4 overs) 307
Fall 6 (How), 117 (Smith), 117 (Young), 121 (Cachopa), 235 (Hay), 257 (Noema-Barnett), 257 (van Wyk), 304 (Small), 306 (Rance), 307 (Patel)
Bowling: J McMillan 18.3-4-59-1, B Soper 1-1-0-0, J Neesham 22.4-4-79-4, S Wells 20.3-6-54-2 (1nb), J Ryder 12-6-21-0, N McCullum 11-0-36-3, M Craig 10-2-34-0, A Redmond2-1-4-0.
OTAGO VOLTS 1st innings
A Redmond not out 80
N Broom b Rance 12
M Bracewell c Patel b Cachopa 35
J Ryder not out 40
Extras (1lb, 1nb) 2
Total (for 2 wkts, 40 overs) 169
Fall: 14 (Broom), 90 (Bracewell)
Bowling: B Small 9-2-48-0, S Rance 10-2-44-1, K Noema-Barnett 4-0-15-0, C Cachopa 4-0-23-1 (1nb), A Patel 8-2-23-0, T Nethula 5-1-15-0.