Cricket: Morgan grasps his opportunity

Otago opener Leighton Morgan has had to wait all summer to don the whites but cashed in on a rare opportunity yesterday with a tidy half century.

Morgan was one of the few Otago batsmen to shine on day one of his side's State Championship match with Auckland at the Queenstown Events Centre.

Otago was dismissed for 210 and, at stumps, Auckland was 69 without loss.

The Wellington-born right hander has had to bide his time with former test openers Aaron Redmond and Craig Cumming in the squad.

But with both players unavailable, Morgan got the nod and repaid the selectors' faith with his second first-class 50.

Morgan's 50 came off 76 deliveries and included seven fours. But on 54, shortly after lunch, he came unstuck when he offered Anaru Kitchen a catch off the bowling of Andy McKay.

Former Black Caps spearhead Daryl Tuffey had a good day with the ball. The medium pacer took four wickets for 32 and leg-spinner Tarun Nethula had his best return with four for 39.

Recalled test bowler Chris Martin, though, struggled. He went wicketless and conceded 60 runs from his 16 overs.

Otago made a poor beginning with Hamish Rutherford dismissed for five and Greg Todd hitting a return catch to bowling all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.

Neil Broom and Morgan added 48 for the third wicket, and Shaun Haig and Jordan Sheed 56 for the fifth-wicket.

Neil Wagner and Mat Harvie added 18 and 17 respectively to guide Otago past 200. But once Harvie was out the tail capitulated quickly.

Auckland captain Richard Jones got his side's reply off to a promising start, striking a pair of boundaries before shutting up shop and playing for stumps.

Opening partner Tim McIntosh found the going harder, scratching his way to double figures before smashing a flurry of late boundaries.

Otago new cap Nick Beard had one over before stumps and started his first-class career with a maiden. The 19-year-old left armer can expect to spend a lot more time at the bowling crease when the match resumes today with Jones undefeated on 33 and McIntosh with him on 30.

• Northern Districts bowler Brent Arnel celebrated his test call-up with four wickets on the opening day of his side's against Canterbury in Christchurch yesterday, NZPA reports.

However, Arnel's figures of four for 38 were shaded by discarded Black Cap Tim Southee, who took five for 43 off 21 overs as Canterbury was all for 246. Northern was 62 for one in reply at stumps.

• Wellington reached 222 for five after the first day's play against Central Districts at Napier's McLean Park yesterday, with James Franklin unbeaten on a patient 54 and Chris Nevin 36.

They rescued their team from a perilous position at 131 for five before bad light ended play early at 5pm.



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