Evenly poised Plunket Shield clash at Rangiora

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014

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An outright victory hangs in the balance at Rangiora today as both Canterbury and Central Districts battle it out in their Plunket Shield clash.

Canterbury are slightly in front heading into today's third day but need early wickets to reinforce any advantage.

Central Districts will resume on 217 for five, still 129 runs shy of Canterbury's first innings total.

Canterbury started the day on 264-5, but things didn't start well with Brad Cachopa dismissed for 61 without adding to his overnight score.

Andrew Ellis, who resumed alongside Cachopa, battled on and despite watching Todd Astle (0) and McCone (10) fall down the other end, stayed for 69 before being caught by Jamie How off the bowling of Seth Rance.

Rance was superb and the all-rounder finished the innings with his best first-class bowling statistics of 6-86.

Canterbury were eventually dismissed for 346 and picked up a second bonus point for surpassing 300 runs before the 110 over mark.

With just over an hour to survive before lunch, CD looked for the best part of the tricky period to be in complete control. But a determined pace attack from Ryan McCone and Hamish Bennett eventually told on the two openers, with Jamie How caught by Bennett at backward square leg as he tried to unleash on a short ball.

Ben Smith lasted two overs after lunch before he nicked one through to Cachopa off Ellis to fall for 17 while Dean Robinson followed shortly after, leaving the visitors reeling at 60-3.

Robinson's dismissal brought together Greg Hay and Will Young who set about trying to revive the CD innings and they made it through to tea with the score at 123-3.

Young lasted just one over after tea before he received a beauty from Ellis who got the ball to bite and pop up on the batsman with the ball ballooning out to Astle at gully.

CD captain Kieran Noema-Barnett lasted for a flighty and expansive 15 before he, too, fell victim to Ellis by offering some catching practice to Cachopa behind the stumps.

Hay kept his head down, though, and teamed up with the spritely Kruger van Wyk to add a partnership of 66 runs of 172 balls at the end of play.

Hay will resume on 71, while van Wyk proved a worthy partner adding a patient 30.

Meanwhile, Wellington overtook Northern Districts on the first innings at Whangarei, thanks to half centuries from Stephen Murdoch, James Franklin and Grant Elliott.

Rain wrecked most of the day in Dunedin with Auckland only adding 80 runs to their tally against Otago.

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