Cricket: Fulton sets scene for exciting finish

Otago's Aaron Redmond (left) and Derek de Boorder celebrate the wicket of Canterbury's Dean Brownlie off the bowling of Mark Craig in the Plunket Shield match at the University Oval yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Otago's Aaron Redmond (left) and Derek de Boorder celebrate the wicket of Canterbury's Dean Brownlie off the bowling of Mark Craig in the Plunket Shield match at the University Oval yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Good things come to those who wait.

And Canterbury captain Peter Fulton was certainly prepared to wait.

The former Black Cap became just the fifth Canterbury batsman to score back-to-back centuries in a first-class game when he scored an undefeated 106 against Otago at the University Oval yesterday.

His marathon effort helped Canterbury (234 for five) build a lead of 216 at stumps on day three.

The 33-year-old right-hander batted for almost six hours before reaching the milestone.

It was not the most sparkling innings he has played but then this was not a day when runs came easily.

"I'm pretty tired, but pleased with the innings," Fulton said.

"It wasn't easy to score but when you got in, you could stay in. It was just scoring runs which was a little tough.

"But I'm just happy we've got ourselves into a position where we can declare when we want to rather than get bowled out."

Fulton said he was keen to make a competitive declaration and avoid batting on for too long and not leaving either side an opportunity to push for a win.

That bodes well for an exciting finish when the match concludes today.

Yesterday was not so thrilling.

Both sides were prepared to play the waiting game. Canterbury was happy to occupy the crease and accumulate runs at glacial pace. And Otago was happy to plug away with ring fields and wait for a mistake. It was cricket's version of a stalemate.

Mark Craig should have claimed Fulton's wicket when he was on 60. The batsman got an inside edge but was dropped at leg gully. Fieldsman Hamish Rutherford stayed in a crouched position for some time lamenting the missed opportunity.

Had Canterbury lost Fulton at that stage it would have put a very different complexion on the game.

Canterbury actually made a bright start through Fulton and George Worker.

The new ball came off the bat better and there were a few more gaps in the field. The pair added 47 in the first 14 overs and were progressing nicely.

Once the ball got a bit older and the field settings more defensive, the runs dried up.

By lunch the visitors were 76 without loss and had slowed to a crawl.

Ian Butler got the breakthrough shortly after the break.

He jagged a delivery back from wide of off stump to bowl Worker (28 from 128). The left-hander got into position to cut the ball but only managed to play on. It was a brute of a ball though, and Butler celebrated with a fist pump. He had bowled well without a lot of luck.

Likewise, Jimmy Neesham deserved some reward. He nipped a delivery back and trapped Shanan Stewart lbw. The experienced batsman had shouldered arms.

Dean Brownlie (7) was not so lucky when he got an edge to first slip. Aaron Redmond nabbed the catch low to his right much to the relief of Craig.