Otago strike bowler Neil Wagner added another
five-wicket bag to his growing collection and has an
opportunity to claim a third first-class hat trick.
The South African-born left-armer claimed five for 54 to help
dismiss Auckland for 221 on the opening day of a Plunket
Shield match at the University Oval yesterday.
At stumps, Otago was 118 for two and in a good position to
build a big first innings lead.
Wagner took a memorable hat trick in Queenstown two summers
ago, when he became the first person in the history of
first-class cricket to take five wickets in a six-ball over.
He also achieved a hat trick in South Africa before moving to
New Zealand. Now he is on the cusp of a third hat trick,
having claimed the last two wickets of the Auckland innings
from consecutive deliveries .
He nicked out Michael Bates and bowled Bhupinder Singh to
complete his 12th first-class five-wicket bag.
Earlier, he made the initial breakthrough with a fine
delivery which nipped away from the right-handed Michael
Guptill-Bunce and took the edge. He also snuffed out the
dangerous Craig Cachopa's innings before he could get
established, and claimed Gareth Hopkins' wicket just before
lunch, when the captain tried to glance a delivery but only
got a faint connection which carried through to the keeper.
''It is just nice to be in the wickets column after a bit of
a dry season, I suppose,'' Wagner said.
As for the impending hat trick: ''It is not something you
think about too much,'' he said.
''I just have to focus on bowling the ball in the right place
but if I end up getting a hat trick it would be nice.''
''But we've got to do a lot of batting [today]. Losing those
two wickets at the end of the day is something we would have
liked to have done differently.
''And I think we let it slip with the ball. We bowled well in
patches but there was enough there to restrict them to a
Auckland made the confident decision to bat first, despite
the presence of the some helpful cloud cover for the Otago
James McMillan settled into a great length and got the ball
to swing, and swing late.
Initially, Auckland combated the movement quite well with
inexperienced pair Guptill-Bunce and Michael Barry valuing
Wagner removed Guptill-Bunce and McMillan struck in the next
over with gem of a delivery which the left-handed Barry
guided into the slips.
Zimbabwean-born all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme did not do
his side any favours when he wafted at a wide delivery and
gave the slip cordon more practice, and just before lunch
Hopkins perished, leaving his side 66 for five at the break.
Dusan Hakaraia (23) and Anaru Kitchen (74) helped bring some
scoreboard respectability, combining to put on 83 for the
Hakaraia, though, made the sinful decision to play the
off-spinner Mark Craig against the spin and was rightly
Sam Wells removed Kitchen, who played around a straight
delivery after having batted quite nicely. He whacked three
sixes and eight fours in a commanding innings.
Bruce Martin provided some useful resistance with 31 before
he was also bowled by Wells.
Aaron Redmond made a rollicking start for Otago, whacking two
sixes over third man off the rapid bowling of Lachie
Ferguson. The 21-year-old generated some real pace but he was
wild with it and Redmond used the bowler's speed to ramp the
He followed up with a thunderous cut shot through point and a
spanking drive. After three overs Ferguson had gone for 22
runs and Redmond was well on the way to his 36th first-class
On 72, he ramped another delivery from Ferguson in the
direction of the rope at thirdman but de Grandhomme
intercepted the ball with a marvellous one-handed catch. With
an eye seemingly always on the rope, he leaped high and
plucked the ball out of the air with his right mitt and then
did well to land back in the field of play.
Redmond and Broom had combined for 111. But some of the good
work was undone when Broom was enticed into a drive and
nicked out for 35 in the penultimate over of the day.