Canterbury spinners could be pivotal

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2013

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Should the struggling Canterbury middle order pull its weight today, the Wizards' spin trio could tomorrow have a golden opportunity to earn the side its second win of the Plunket Shield season.

Canterbury conceded a 27-run first innings lead to Wellington at the Basin Reserve in the capital, but openers Peter Fulton and George Worker negotiated 13 tricky overs at the end of the day to reach stumps at 43-0.

While Fulton and Worker will want to bat as deep into today as possible, the Basin Reserve deck will give the perfect chance for the Wizards' embattled middle order to finally stand up.

Coach Gary Stead opted to carry one less batsmen into this match, by making Henry Nicholls the 12th man, but that means more pressure to perform for those who remain.

Canterbury leg-spinner Todd Astle said if the middle order, himself included, could score big today there was a great chance on the dry pitch for the spinners to come into play.

"It could set up that way, it could set up so myself, TJ [Tim Johnston] and Ronnie [Hira] to play a big part. The openers have done a great job [last night] and hopefully they can carry on [today] and we can put on a good score."

Yesterday's second day was another even one. Wizards captain Stephen Murdoch scored 102 and his side had meaningful contributions from Luke Ronchi (95) and Jesse Ryder (78).

But that trio scored 275 runs and with that in mind Canterbury must be pleased to have conceded only a small lead.

Astle and Johnston did the bulk of the bowling, taking 2-77 and 2-109 respectively from 25 overs each while new ball bowlers Ryan McCone and Matt McEwan also picked up two each.

Most importantly for the Wizards will be runs now and apart from Fulton and Dean Brownlie, they're all due.

In other matches, Otago are on top against Northern Districts in Queenstown. Hamish Rutherford celebrated his Black Caps Twenty20 callup with 162 to help Otago reach 319 and a first innings lead of 102. ND reached stumps at 141-3 and begin the third day with Hamish Marshall unbeaten on 38.

Central Districts and Auckland started a day earlier and CD will resume on this morning's final day at 386-6 with a lead of 271. Jamie How's 124 and his opening partnership of 173 with Jeet Raval (77) helped CD make up their 115-run first innings deficit.

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- The Press

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