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In a rain-affected game, Otago was always struggling, especially when the rain came midway through its innings.
It eventually got through to 145 for nine wickets in 17 overs.
Otago had to leave the field because of rain when the score was 124 for five after 14.4 overs.
When the players came back out Otago had just 14 balls to face and scored 21 runs.
Otago coach Rob Walter said the rain came just at the wrong time for the side.
“When it came it stunted our innings. That is the critical time when you look to push on and make a movement in the game.
“The net effect of that was we came back out and we had 14 balls to get back on track.”
Otago tried to hit out in those final balls but needed more than the 21 runs it got to end up on 145 for nine.
In hindsight the total was about 20 runs light.
Walter said, though, he felt the Otago bowlers did well and made it difficult for the home team.
Central Districts had an adjusted total of 153 off 17 overs to chase and with its stacked batting line-up it was confident of getting to the target.
Otago picked up wickets throughout the innings and after 10 overs, Central was 89 for four wickets. But Ross Taylor and Josh Clarkson combined for a 51-run stand and eventually made it through to the winning total in the 16th over.
Taylor finished unbeaten on 48, hitting the winning runs with a six over mid wicket.
Nathan Smith picked up four wickets in an encouraging return to the bowling crease.
The win by Central puts it on 20 points on the Super Smash ladder, sharing the lead with Canterbury and Wellington.
Otago has eight points with four games left and has games coming up against Wellington and Canterbury which it simply must win.
Walter said the side was not far away from a complete performance but with some quality sides in the competition if you were slightly off then it was hard to win.