Great day for Rippon but ton eludes him

Michael Rippon watches his attempted drive caught by Northern Districts wicketkeeper BJ Watling...
Michael Rippon watches his attempted drive caught by Northern Districts wicketkeeper BJ Watling to deny his his maiden first-class century at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Cricket can be a cruel game - ask Michael Rippon.

When a game is ruined by the weather and there is little left to play for, it comes down to individual milestones.

Rippon put together a belter of a day yesterday but ultimately he came up short for himself and his team.

After all of Sunday was washed out and clouds threatened yesterday, it came down to personal achievement at the University of Otago Oval.

That meant firstly Michael Rippon could get his maiden first-class century.

Rippon (28) had shared in a record 190-run stand with Nathan Smith on Sunday before Smith, who had scored his maiden first-class century, was out in the final stages.

Yesterday, resuming at 297 for seven wickets, Otago needed to extend its lead at a rapid rate and then hope to get back out on the field.

It got up to 349 with the loss of the further three wickets which was not a bad effort.

Rippon worked his way towards a century and reached 98. Facing Neil Wagner, Rippon looked to put a drive through the offside to bring up his ton.

But all he succeeded in doing was to get an edge and it was well caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Rippon was out for 98, his highest score at this level.

Otago was dismissed shortly afterwards, giving itself a 106-run lead over the visiting side.

However, as soon as Northern Districts went in, rain arrived and the players left the field before 1pm.

They got back out at 3pm but, by then, the game was heading for a draw. Again Rippon became involved and started taking wickets.

A win looked a long shot for the home team with not many overs and the visiting batsmen having little need to play strokes.

But Rippon kept bowling well with his Chinaman deliveries.

A couple of quick wickets from Rippon and, with Dean Foxcroft bagging a wicket, there was a slim hope for Otago.

When Dean Brownlie chopped the ball on, Northern was teetering and Rippon was looking to perform a miracle.

He kept bowling a good line and Northern battened down the hatches.

Joe Carter scored two in nearly an hour and a-half while BJ Watling became the fifth scalp for Rippon.

But the side ran out of overs and Rippon finished with just his second five-wicket bag in first-class cricket. It was a mighty effort from a player in his first game of the season.

In Wellington, the weather had the final say and there was no play yesterday between Auckland and Wellington.

In Nelson, Central Districts batted for most of the day but kept losing wickets while Canterbury continued to look for a sniff but, like Otago, ran out of time with Central having a lead of 239 runs and one wicket in hand.

The Plunket Shield will now go into hibernation as the one-day competition starts on Sunday.

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