Otago go top with thumping nine wicket win

Otago go top with thumping nine wicket win

Day three: Otago 374 and 67-1 (Aaron Redmond 22*, Michael Bracewell 26*) beat Canterbury 243 and 192 by nine wickets. 

Otago chased down their target of 62 to win at a sprint, taking just 8.5 overs to get there, before Michael Bracewell brought the innings to a close with a six. 

Neil Wagner was again the destroyer for Otago, taking 5-70 to go with his four wickets from the first match, showing the BLACKCAPS selectors he brought his form and fire home from Bangladesh. Sam Wells ended with figures of 13-2-38-2 at the extremely tidy run rate of 2.92, while Blair Soper picked up two wickets also. 

For Canterbury, there was some resistance from the middle and lower order, but it was too late to save the match. Matt Henry (34) and Tim Johnston (20) put on 50 for the ninth wicket, but it wasn't enough to faze the visitors.

Redmond and  Ryan Duffy roared into the chase, and Bracewell took up the charge when Redmond was bowled by Simon Keen. Otago took all the points and moved to the top of the table - many of these players' thoughts will now turn to the West Indies v NZ XI warm up match in Lincoln next week now. 

Day two: Otago 374 (Jesse Ryder 120, Michael Bracewell 129, Aaron Redmond 56, Hamish Bennett 4-103, Todd Astle 4-102) lead Canterbury 243 and 87-5 (Neil Wagner 2-30, Blair Soper 2-29) by 44 runs. 

Comeback man Jesse Ryder hit a faster-than-a-run-a-ball century of 120 and Michael Bracewell complied 129 to help put Otago in a commanding position at the end of day two after their bowlers had five Canterbury batsmen back in the pavilion in the host's second dig.   

Ryder's hundred came from just 96 balls and hit 22 fours in the innings, his second first class hundred for Otago in just a couple of weeks. His partnership of 178 with Bracewell helped Otago cruise into the lead. From there, Otago lost their last six wickets for just 26 runs, with Hamish Bennett running riot through the tail, but by then his side was behind by 131. 

The day got worse for Canterbury when they came out to bat, losing five wickets in the evening session, including Peter Fulton, George Worker, Dean Brownlie and Brad Cahopa. Neil Wagner again was destructive, backup up by Blair Soper. 

At 44 runs behind with five wickets in hand with two days to play and facing a side with their tails up, Canterbury will need something fairly special to get something from this match.  

Day one: Canterbury Wizards 243 (Tim Johnston 71, Dean Brownlie 52, Neil Wagner 4-73, Sam Wells 3-41), lead Otago 41-0 (Aaron Redmond 22, Ryan Duffy 14) by 188 runs.

A fine display from Neil Wagner backed up by Sam Wells made life at the crease uncomfortable and short for most of the Canterbury batsmen in Rangiora. Rain meant only 4.3 overs were possible before lunch, but when play got underway in earnest, Blair Soper removed George Worker early. Neil Wagner's typically lively pace was too much for the Canterbury batsmen, accounting for for Peter Fulton and Shanan Stewart in the top order. 

Dean Brownlie showed feisty resistance, bringing up his 50 from just 58 balls, incuding his 2000th first-class run for the Wizards when he was on 44. He was to become Soper's second victim - it was bad news for Canterbury from there, as from 109-5 they lost the next four wickets for just 45 runs. 

Things could have been bleak it wasn't for Tim Johnston's 71 at number 10 - his partnership of 89 for the last wicket, with a resolute Hamish Bennett (30 from 81 balls) dragged Canterbury up to 243. 

The host's aim would have been wickets in the 17 overs they bowled before stumps, but Ryan Duffy on debut and Aaron Redmond say Otago through to 41 for no loss, to end a very satisfactory day's play for the southern men.  

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