Canterbury stay in contest against CD

Canterbury have the chance to play spoilers this weekend as the Plunket Shield race heats up.

After two days in Canterbury's penultimate game of the first-class season, they share honours with competition leaders Central Districts. Canterbury were to resume their second innings this morning at 55-2 with a lead of 58.

Canterbury can claim they had the better of the second day at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval.

Starting the day with all 10 wickets in hand and facing a deficit of just 220, Central should have tightened their grip on the shield.

On a deck that's a touch lower and slower than normal at Rangiora, yesterday was the best the pitch will be for batting and Central let a big chance slip.

The top order all got starts, but didn't go on and only skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett and day one bowling hero Doug Bracewell cashed in.

Even then, both were cut off, for 57 and 61 respectively, before too much damage was done.

Canterbury coach Gary Stead said with the way the pitch was playing, runs on the board today would be crucial.

With two spinners in the side, the Wizards back themselves to bowl Central out on a day four pitch.

But while this pitch can be harder to score runs quickly on, it never breaks up or becomes a minefield so Canterbury must bat well today.

After losing openers Peter Fulton and George Worker early in their second innings yesterday, Henry Nicholls (19 not out) and Dean Brownlie (27 not out) saw the home side through to stumps.

Earlier, Ben McCord and Todd Astle took three wickets apiece while opening bowlers Matt McEwan (2-55) and Ryan McCone (1-58) also bowled well at times.

"I thought we did a pretty good job today," Stead said.

"Ben McCord, first game back for us from injury, just kept putting it in a good spot and I thought Matt McEwan did well and Ryan McCone, he'd been sick last night, showed a lot of guts to bowl well again today."

Canterbury's chances of winning the competition are over, but an outright win would open up the door for an Otago side who look odds on to beat Auckland in Dunedin.

Resuming yesterday 103 runs behind Auckland's total, few expected nightwatchman Nick Beard to do the bulk of the damage.

Beard batted the entire day and reached stumps on 160 not out, 98 more than he'd ever scored in a first-class innings.

Beard added 239 for the fourth wicket with Neil Broom, an Otago record against all comers. Broom scored his 13th first-class century and was eventually dismissed for 103. Otago reached stumps at 438-4, a lead of 217.

The only other team with a sniff of winning the shield are Northern Districts, but their slim hopes became slimmer yesterday.

Chasing Wellington's 423, Northern reached stumps at 344-6 and have plenty of work to do to force an outright.

Daniel Flynn's 102 was the highlight for Northern while Daryl Mitchell and Tim Southee resume today on 71 and 41 respectively.

Southee's runs came off just 22 balls and he and Mitchell added 50 for the seventh wicket, with Mitchell contributing just seven.

The Press