Hard work awaits Volts

Rob Walter.
Rob Walter.
Otago will have to ''push hard'' to climb back into contention for the Plunket Shield, coach Rob Walter says.

The first-class competition will resume in late February following the one-day and twenty20 tournaments.

The campaign is nearing the halfway point and the Volts (15 points) find themselves at the wrong end of the standings. They are in fifth place and can feel a little aggrieved about that.

Dunedin's infamous weather interrupted play during a crucial stage of the game against Northern Districts this week.

An entire day's play was washed away and with it went Otago's prospects of recording a rare outright win, while earlier this month Otago's round-two match against Auckland was abandoned without a ball bowled.

Otago coach Rob Walter said there was not much you could do about the weather but it left his side with some catching up to do.

''We are almost at the halfway stage and it does not give you a lot of time to claw your way back into the tournament,'' Walter said.

''It certainly means you have to push hard to try and get yourselves back into it.

''But all the other games were rain-affected in this round as well, so it is not only here and we need to look at things in that context,'' he added.

''But obviously, losing all four days the other week was a setback. To walk away with only four points puts you behind.''

Otago and Auckland were awarded four points apiece for the abandoned match. Both camps had hoped to be awarded the average number of points for the round.

There was some flexibility in the playing conditions to allow for that to happen but New Zealand Cricket ruled the four points would stand.

The Volts had a rest day yesterday but will be back at work today. The team opens its one-day campaign with a match against Northern Districts in Hamilton on Sunday.

It is unclear whether leading batsman Neil Broom will be available. He has a forearm issue and missed the first-class game against Northern Districts.

''He has extensive work done on it but he has not hit a ball, so we will only know by the end of the week.

''But we'll give him as much time as we can do.''

Broom will be a loss if he is ruled out but Otago showed it has some batting depth.

Nathan Smith (114) and Michael Rippon (98) combined in an Otago-record seventh-wicket stand of 190 in the match against Northern Districts.

Rippon starred with the ball as well. The left-arm wrist spinner took nine for 93 in the match.

The 28-year-old was a key figure in Otago's one-day campaign last season.

The Dutch international took 14 wickets and scored 300 runs, including a gutsy 82 in the final.

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