Cricket: Quest to win shield still alive

Otago's quest to win the Plunket Shield is still alive after it dismissed Wellington for a modest 255 at the Basin Reserve yesterday.

At stumps on day one, Otago was 113 for two, trailing Wellington by 142 runs.

The visiting side is desperate to win the first-class tournament for the first time in 25 years and batted with a great deal of purpose, scoring at more than five an over while Aaron Redmond and Michael Bracewell were at the crease.

Bracewell's dismissal on 33 resulted in Nick Beard coming in as night watchman as he did in the last game against Auckland.

Beard batted for more than seven hours to scored 188 in the 10-wicket win and did a good job yesterday evening, guiding his side through to stumps without further loss. Redmond was unbeaten on 60 from 79 deliveries.

Otago coach Vaughn Johnson was satisfied with his side's effort.

''We played some good cricket,'' Johnson said.

''We did not execute with the ball at times but managed to get 10 wickets and four bowling bonus points. And our batting was on the front foot, so you have to be reasonably happy with how it went.''

Otago is vying for the title with Central Districts and needs the competition leader to slip up against Northern Districts in Nelson. Otago will also need to beat Wellington to leapfrog Central.

Johnson noted Central had the better of the opening day in its match with Northern across the strait.

''Funny things can happen. Central has made a good start but they are going to have to bat well to get a lead [today]. We are probably slightly in front in terms of the game.''

Wellington made a good beginning with Michael Papps and Joshua Brodie putting on 99 for the opening wicket, at a good clip of just over four an over.

Beard got the breakthrough when he bowled Brodie (37) and Jimmy Neesham then removed fellow opener Papps for 63 in the next over.

The promising all-rounder then nicked out the captain, Stephen Murdoch, for one and trapped Michael Pollard in front for four in a fabulous opening spell.

When he returned later in the day he was not as successful, but had already done plenty of damage.

Neil Wagner helped wrap up Wellington's first innings removing Scott Kuggeleijn for 37 and Jeetan Patel for seven.

Sam Wells has made a habit of picking up key wickets and struck again, removing the in-form Luke Ronchi (25) before he could capitalise on his start.

Central is in no mood to let its nine-point lead slide. Ben Wheeler picked up three wickets to help wrap up Northern's first innings for 267. At stumps, Central was 46 without loss.

In the other match, Canterbury dismissed Auckland for a paltry 173 at Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Part-timer Shanan Stewart claimed his maiden five-wicket bag. He had previously taken just 12 wickets in 87 games.

Canterbury was 128 for one at stumps with Peter Fulton unbeaten on 80.

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