Cricket: Contributions all round in Otago success

Ian Butler.
Ian Butler.
Neil Wagner sealed Otago's three-wicket win over Auckland by smashing veteran left-arm spinner Bruce Martin for a six.

It was an emphatic finish to what was in the end a very close match.

In-form all-rounder Colin Munro did his best to take the game away from the visiting side with a fine century.

The South African-born left-hander whacked 118 runs from 124 deliveries to help Auckland reach 274.

Chasing 218 for the win, Otago all-rounder Nathan McCullum made an impact on his return from international duty, top-scoring in the Volts second innings with 77.

Aaron Redmond did his part with 98 in the first innings to help Otago build a small first-innings lead. But seamer Ian Butler took nine wickets in the match and was the stand-out in what was a pretty good team performance, Otago coach Vaughn Johnson said.

''Everybody contributed in some way,'' Johnson said.

''We got ourselves into strong positions and then we let it slip a bit. But the beauty of it was the batsmen were able to bring it home after the bowlers had probably dominated our performance."

None was better than Butler. He claimed his third five-wicket bag in the first innings with five for 57 and backed up with four for 61 in the second innings.

''He is one guy you can plan an attack around. When he is bowling well, he hits a heavy length and he led the attack in both innings in this game. Generally, on the whole this year, he has bowled very well."

Otago's attack was disappointing against Central Districts last week and Johnson said the bowling unit was determined to produce an improved performance.

McCullum made his presence felt with both the ball and bat. The offspinner bowled tidily, picking up four for 26 for the match. But more importantly he played an innings of note. He has been guilty of underperforming with the bat at this level but showed what he is capable of yesterday.

''Nathan came in and showed good intent. He is a class player and we thought long and hard about what would be the best position to bat him in. We decided to stick him in at No 5 and ask him to perform a batting role and he hasn't let us down."

Auckland resumed on 118 for five with a slender lead of 61 runs. Munro continued on with his sizzling form, cracking his third century this season.

Bruce Martin played a useful cameo, chipping in with 32 and Craig Cachopa added a 21 to his overnight score of six.

Otago's reply hit an early road bump when Hamish Rutherford, Michael Bracewell and Neil Broom contributed just three runs between them.

Redmond and McCullum added 56 for the fifth wicket to help steady the nerves in the dressing room and Sam Wells (39) and Jimmy Neesham (36 not out) made valuable contributions.

Chris Martin and Mitchell McClenaghan took three wickets apiece for Auckland.

Otago is in second place on the competition table with 50 points from five games. Central Districts leads with 63 points from four games but Otago has the luxury of playing four of its remaining five games at home.

Meanwhile, at Seddon Park in Hamilton, Northern Districts requires 10 wickets, while Canterbury needs to make 403 runs to record an unlikely victory tomorrow, APNZ reports.

The home side began day three today on 116 for three and went about racking up a decent second-innings total as opener Joseph Yovich scored 128.

He had strong support from Daryl Mitchell (73), BJ Watling (68 not out) and Corey Anderson who was unbeaten on 69.

Their total of 410 for five declared left Canterbury to pursue 425 for victory and openers George Worker (14) and Peter Fulton (8) were unbeaten when rain interrupted play.