Escape by Volts feels like victory

Max Chu
Max Chu
Success is not always so easily defined.

By most measures, Canterbury was on track to meet the narrow interpretation with a victory against Otago at Molyneux Park yesterday.

Black Caps all-rounder Daryl Mitchell had nabbed five wickets and Otago was on the canvas at 304 for nine with more than 20 overs remaining in the game.

But the inevitable proved elusive. The Volts escaped with the most unlikely of draws.

Teenage wicketkeeper Max Chu batted for 4½ hours and saw off 229 deliveries during his gutsy undefeated knock of 41.

The 19-year-old left-hander combined with tailender Michael Rae (13 from 56) in a heroic last stand. The pair held firm for just under 23 overs to deny Canterbury its fourth consecutive win.

Had the visiting side found a way to remove Rae or Chu, it would have moved into a seemingly unassailable position at the top of the standings.

As it is, Canterbury nurses a 20-point lead which will take some hauling in when the tournament resumes late in the summer.

Otago coach Rob Walter's belief in his side was probably put to the test when it resumed at 157 for four with an entire day of batting ahead just to save the game.

While he would have preferred his team to bat that way on the opening day, he was thrilled with the effort.

"It was gutsy and shows how much it means to the team to save the game," he said before showering Chu with praise.

"It was great to see him bat like that and shows he is able to keep his head when the pressure is on."

Skipper Hamish Rutherford also made a major contribution.

He resumed his innings on 26 and his determination proved a powerful adhesive. He was eventually levered from the crease by Mitchell but not before he had scored 72 runs and seen off 207 balls.

Travis Muller needs a special mention as well. He was more aggressive than Chu or Rutherford and added 46 from 97.

Mitchell will be annoyed his maiden first-class five-for was not rewarded with a team win.

Canterbury got into a commanding position when it dismissed Otago for 168 on the opening day. A big century by Ken McClure and chunky cameos from Henry Nicholls (87) and Tom Latham (63) put the visiting team further in front. It declared at 499 for seven with a monster lead of 331 runs.

But there is always an escape hatch in cricket and Otago used it to exit Alexandra feeling like it had won something.

And in a way it had. It was certainly not a conventional victory. But then success is not always so easily defined.

At Saxton Oval, Black Caps seamer Tim Southee took four for 53 to help Northern Districts seal a 40-run win against Central Districts on a tense final day. Will Young posted an undefeated 110 but ran out of batting partners.

Auckland held on to a draw in its match against Wellington at the Basin Reserve. Graeme Beghin made 108 at the top of the innings.

First innings 168
First innings 499 for seven dec
Second innings
A Kitchen b Mitchell 59
C Hawkins lbw b Mitchell 21
D Phillips b van Woerkom 2
H Rutherford c Fletcher b Mitchell 72
N Kelly c Mitchell b McConchie 23
N Smith b Mitchell 23
M Rippon c Fletcher b Williams 19
M Chu not out 41
J Duffy b Mitchell 6
T Muller c Nicholls b McConchie 46
M Rae not out 13
Extras (1b, 8lb, 3nb) 12
Total (for 9 wkts,  153 overs) 337
Fall: 1/76, 2/79, 3/93, 4/124, 5/164, 6/212, 7/240, 
8/246, 9/304.
Bowling: W Williams 19 overs, 2 maidens, 63 
runs, 1 wicket, E Nuttall 20-7-41-0 (3nb), F  Sheat 
12-4-40-0, T van Woerkom 37-9-82-1, D Mitchell 
28-10-44-5, C McConchie 35-14-56-2, K McClure 
Result: Match drawn.

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