Kelly key as Otago holds on

Nick Kelly
Nick Kelly
Auckland is chasing a win, but Otago has given itself a chance of denying it.

Nick Kelly struck a brilliant 118 yesterday to retain hope of salvaging a draw today.

Otago reached 281 in the first innings of its Plunket Shield match against Auckland at the Eden Park Outer Oval.

In response, Auckland pummelled Otago's bowlers late in the day to put itself in a position to push for a win.

It reached 166 for three in its second innings from just 18 overs, to lead by 352 runs at stumps on the penultimate day.

Plenty of grit will be needed from Otago today, but things had looked far worse when play began yesterday morning.

The side resumed at 59 for four, still well short of the 467 Auckland had declared at late on day two.

Kelly resumed yesterday on two and battled through to hold up one end until he was caught just after tea.

At the other end it was spin that undid Otago, although it again fought hard.

Matt Bacon was the first to depart, the nightwatchman getting trapped lbw by the dangerous Louis Delport.

Mitch Renwick joined Kelly at that point and the pair dug in. However, he was bowled sweeping by Glenn Phillips for 21, bringing Nathan Smith to the crease.

He, too, offered resistance and by the time Delport claimed his wicket Otago had made it to 203.

At the other end Kelly continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over. He hit 17 boundaries, sweeping well against the spinners and remaining resolute.

His 50 came just before lunch, while he went past 100 after drinks in the afternoon session.

When he was finally caught, pulling off the bowling of Delport, Otago was 266 for eight.

Michael Rippon made an important unbeaten 41, but Otago was bowled out for 281.

Delport was the pick of the Auckland bowlers, taking five for 77, running through the Otago middle order.

The Auckland top-order pummelled the Otago bowling attack to reach 166 for three.

It reached 100 inside 10 overs, as its top four all struck at more than a run a ball.

Otago dismissed Martin Guptill, Phillips and Mark Chapman, although all made handy contributions at a rapid strike rate.

Jeet Raval top-scored with an unbeaten 66 from 51, while Ben Horne is the other not out batsman on seven.

In other matches, Wellington trails Canterbury by 176 runs with six wickets remaining, although Canterbury has another innings if needed. Similarly Northern Districts trails Central Districts by 147 runs with eight wickets in hand, Central with its second innings to come.

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