Volts beat Shield leaders

The Otago Volts made all the running en route to a fully deserved victory over Plunket Shield cricket leaders the Central Stags.

Otago picked up maximum points by winning by a margin of 117 runs after a series of horse trading deals produced the result they wanted on the fourth and final afternoon of the fifth round fixture at Napier's McLean Park.

Victorious captain Craig Cumming had cause to commiserate with his Central counterpart Kruger van Wyk after both leaders did their best to manufacture a result when the match seemed destined for a tame draw as the sides arrived at the ground this morning keen to make up for time lost due to rain earlier in the encounter.

Van Wyk made the first move by declaring his side's first innings at their overnight 156 for five, leaving them 319 runs in arrears of Otago's opening effort of 475 for five declared.

Cumming then returned the favour by pulling the pin on his side's second innings at 71 for one after nine entertaining overs, but not before 20-year-old Michael Bracewell belted an unbeaten 34 off 21 balls.

That left Central requiring 391 from 96 overs at a rate of 4.07 an over, a sporting challenge bearing in mind McLean Park's longstanding reputation for favouring the batsmen.

But once opener George Worker fell just two runs short of a deserved century with his side at 188 for three Central's chances of pulling off an unlikely victory as good as evaporated.

Worker's 98 contained 15 fours and a lone six from 218 minutes of diligent work after Peter Ingram and Brad Patton both made starts but failed to kick on.

It was then left to former international Mathew Sinclair to dig his side out of trouble and he did stick around for 147 minutes in compiling 59 before debutant offspinner Mark Craig found the edge of his usually broad bat.

That left Otago requiring three wickets in 18 overs against the Central tail and 22-year-old Craig edged them closer to victory when he had Michael Mason caught at minimal cost.

The last 10 overs began with Central eight down and a new spell from left-arm fast bowler Neil Wagner was almost immediately successful as he snared his fourth victim before Nick Beard sealed the deal by trapping Ben Wheeler leg before wicket for 13.

Wagner finished with four for 92 and Craig three for 87 off 27 overs, but each member of the visitors' attack was tidy at worst as only one extra, a leg bye, was conceded in the entire innings.

Day 3: Volts in box seat

Competition leaders the Central Stags have a lot of work in front of them before they can build on their season's haul of 26 points, eight more than the Northern Knights

Their match against the Otago Volts lost a lot of time due to the weather and only a first innings result is now seemingly possible after Shaun Haig and Neil Broom compiled quality centuries to guide the southerners to 475 for seven declared on the road which is the McLean Park pitch in Napier.

With one day to play, Central responded with 156 for five, having failed to take on board the lessons delivered by Haig and Broom, who resumed this morning on 60 and 20, respectively, with Otago comfortably placed at 226 for two.

They shared a stand of 151 for the third wicket, with Haig the first to go for 124, his fourth first-class century, scored in 217 minutes, a fine innings studded with 21 fours and one six.

As fate would have it, Broom ended with an identical score, but one which took him 289 minutes to compile as he hit 16 fours to complete his 10th century at this level.

Ad Feedback None of the Central batsmen threatened to replicate the form of Haig and Broom as the home team's top order buckled in the face of some fine seam bowling.

Left-arm fast bowler Neil Wagner struck the first blow by removing free spirited opener Peter Ingram for 20, then the hustle and bustle of Ian Butler undid George Worker and Brad Patton and James McMillan pierced the defence of Central linchpin Mathew Sinclair as the hosts lost four for 33 to be 56 for four.

Tim Weston responded to his team's plight with a fighting, unbeaten 61 off only 54 balls and he is the last specialist batsman remaining when he picks up his bat again tomorrow alongside wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk on 18.

Day 2: Volts make strong start after delayed start

At Napier, Otago Volts captain Craig Cumming fell seven runs short of a third successive first-class century as the southerners reached 226 for two at stumps batting first against the Central Stags at McLean Park.

All of the first day was lost because of rain and ground conditions delayed the start of play today until 1400, ensuring only 71 overs of play were possible.

Otago certainly made the most of them. Cumming, who scored a century in each innings against Canterbury in Queenstown last week, was bowled by spinner George Worker for 93 after he had put on a 129-run opening stand with 20-year-old debutant Michael Bracewell, who faced 122 balls for his 45.

Shaun Haig is unbeaten on 60 and he will resume tomorrow with Neil Broom, who is on 20.

The other fifth round match, between Wellington and Canterbury at Wellington, was postponed after Tuesday's deadly Christchurch earthquake.



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