Cricket

Wagner and Craig set up Otago victory


Fifties from openers Hamish Rutherford and Brad Wilson ensured Otago chased down 239 against Canterbury, and opened their Plunket Shield campaign with a seven-wicket victory at the Hagley Oval.

The openers had added 162 runs before they were dismissed in a space of two overs on the third day, leaving the side with 47 runs to win on the final day. Captain Rob Nichol and Neil Broom – who had been left out from the New Zealand squad for the ongoing limited-overs series in India – then added 72 runs for the third wicket before Broom offered a return catch to offspinner Tim Johnston with his team four runs away from victory. Nichol and allrounder James Neesham – who had also been omitted for the India tour – then applied the finishing touches as Otago secured 17 points.

The win, though, was set up by the bowlers, who dismissed Canterbury for 155 in the first innings and paved the way for a 61-run first-innings lead. Seamers Neil Wagner and Jacob Duffy made the early inroads and helped pin down Canterbury to 57 for 5. Michael Pollard‘s 54 and contributions from the lower order then dragged the side past 150. Duffy returned three wickets while New Zealand internationals Wagner and Mark Craig picked up two wickets each.

In response, Otago were reduced to 63 for 3 at stumps on the first day. Wagner, the nightwatchman, did not last long on the second, falling for 17. But Wilson ground out a fifty – he would go onto make another in the second dig – and was complemented by Neesham (38) and Craig (46) as Otago snatched the first-innings advantage.

Canterbury fared better in their second innings, with 10 of their 11 batsmen entering double figures. However, among them, only one passed fifty with Brett Hampton punching 60 off 55 balls. Wagner and Craig led Otago’s bowling again, claiming seven wickets between them to bowl their opponents out for 299.

Canterbury’s left-arm wristspinner Blake Coburn – who was playing his maiden first-class game – picked up two wickets in the second innings in addition to his three in the first, but it wasn’t enough for his side.



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