Cricket: Taylor makes low-key return; Otago in control

Hamish Rutherford made 90 not out for Otago against Wellington in Dunedin today.
Hamish Rutherford made 90 not out for Otago against Wellington in Dunedin today.
Former New Zealand captain Ross Taylor returned to cricket with a whimper today, but his Central Districts side still took control of their Plunket Shield clash with Canterbury.

In his first effort with the bat since being deposed as skipper of the national side, Taylor was caught behind for four and left to watch the Stags reach 303-8 declared on the first day's play at McLean Park in Napier.

Coming in at No 4 with the Stags on 64-2, a circumspect Taylor spent almost half an hour at the crease and faced 25 balls before nicking an angled delivery from seamer Ryan McCone through to Tom Latham behind the stumps.

Taylor's last turn in the middle was much more successful - he scored a century and led the Black Caps to a test victory over Sri Lanka in November before he was replaced by Brendon McCullum as captain in all three forms of the game.

The 28-year-old, unhappy with the way in which New Zealand coach Mike Hesson made the change, opted to take a break from all cricket and sit out the Black Caps' tour to South Africa.

After announcing his intention to return to the national set-up for next month's home series against England, Taylor was left needing match practice with his domestic side before he plays for New Zealand XI in two Twenty20s against the touring English.

He may not have managed much time at the crease today, but that was far from detrimental for the hopes of CD. A half-century from opener Jeet Raval set up the Stags, before Mathew Sinclair (86no) and Kruger van Wyk (71no) combined for a 142-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Their efforts saw the Stags in a position to declare shortly before stumps, and Kyle Jarvis justified that decision by claiming the wicket of opener George Worker in his first over to leave Canterbury on 1-1 at the close of play.

Elsewhere, Northern Districts and Otago are firmly in control of their matches against Auckland and Wellington, respectively.

In Hamilton, 22-year-old seamer Anurag Verma took 7-82 in just his second first class game to dismiss Auckland for 240 inside of two sessions.

It could have been even worse for the Aces were it not for Hawaii-born allrounder Dusan Hakaraia. Making his first class debut, Hakaraia came in at No 7 and hit an unbeaten 141 to save his side from potential embarrassment.

In reply, ND looked right at home at Seddon Park, recovering from the early loss of Joseph Yovich to reach 152-1 at stumps. Daniel Flynn (78no) and Brad Wilson (63no) will resume tomorrow morning with the Knights trailing by 88 runs with nine wickets in hand.

It was a similar story in Dunedin, where Blair Soper and James Fuller combined for nine wickets to dismiss Wellington for 254.

Hamish Rutherford's rapid 90 not out made that total seem rather small at stumps, leading Otago to 139-1 and leaving the deficit at 115 runs.