Cricket: Butler five-for gives Otago edge

Ian Butler
Ian Butler
A five-wicket bag from Ian Butler has helped his side skittle Auckland as Otago took opening day honours in their Plunket Shield clash at Eden Park's outer oval yesterday.

Otago and Auckland entered the encounter in second and third place respectively and separated by only three points, but the Volts grabbed the early initiative in the chase to haul in runaway leaders Central Districts.

When bad light eventually stopped play, Otago trailed Auckland's first innings total of 196 by just 110 runs with their full complement of wickets in hand.

After Otago captain Derek de Boorder won the toss and elected to bowl on a gloomy day in Auckland, the hosts made a decent start as Tim McIntosh and Lou Vincent put on 53 for the first wicket.

But Butler's first spell soon brought dividends as he removed Vincent for 37. Jimmy Neesham dismissed McIntosh the very next over and, once Neesham bowled out Colin de Grandhomme, the Aces were reduced to 61-3.

Things didn't get much better for Auckland as they slumped to 104-5 at lunch and, after a brief break for bad light in the middle session, the wickets continued to tumble.

Colin Munro provided the only real resistance with a run-a-ball half-century, but Butler had him caught for 59 to complete his third first class five-wicket haul.

When Nathan McCullum wrapped up the tail, Otago's bowlers had earned the full four bonus points and given their batsmen every chance of snatching a sizeable first-innings advantage.

Aaron Redmond and Hamish Rutherford, particularly, seized that chance and saw their side through to 86-0 loss at stumps, with Rutherford's unbeaten 60 coming from just 63 balls.

The day's other game, between Northern Districts and Canterbury, was limited to 50 overs due to rain in Hamilton.

In that time the hosts, who were sent in by Canterbury captain Peter Fulton, managed to reach 125-2 with Joseph Yovich (40no) and Daryl Mitchell (8no) the unbeaten batsmen.

Providing the skies clear at Seddon Park, defending champions ND will resume chasing the win they need to rise off the bottom of the table.

- Kris Shannon

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