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Getting the basics right will move the Otago Volts a long way towards their first Plunket Shield win when they host the Wellington Firebirds at the University Oval from today.
The Volts remain winless after four rounds of the Plunket Shield, but have drawn three of those matches. Even the loss could have been a win if Otago had managed to bowl out Auckland as it chased down a big fourth-innings target of 372 in the second round.
``Wins are the end result of doing a whole bunch of things well in four-day cricket,'' Volts coach Rob Walter said yesterday.
``Have we done enough of those things well for long enough? Probably not yet and therefore we don't have a win behind our name. But I know we were close to wins in two of our first three games and that's a good sign.
``Turning this side into a championship-winning four-day team, that's a process you don't do overnight and that's the reality. You've got to learn to play the game well enough to be champions and we have certainly got better but we know where we're headed.''
The Volts did not exactly slip backwards in their rain-affected draw with Canterbury in Invercargill last week where Canterbury racked up 446 for six in just over a day's play. But dropped catches and two poor sessions meant the side had plenty to work on before today's match.
``Michael Rae's performance [four for 112] was the stand-out. I thought he bowled outstandingly well - he's waited a long time to get the opportunity and he certainly delivered on that,'' Walter said.
``If I look at it overall, we had two bad sessions after lunch and after tea. They were probably our worst two back-to-back sessions of the season so far. But we don't want to read too much into that because the guys have been really good up to that point.''
Strike bowler Jacob Duffy (knee) and spinner Mark Craig (side strain) were ruled out yesterday, but the losses have been tempered by the return of Jimmy Neesham from national duty and Ryan Duffy from concussion.
With the abscence of Jacob Duffy, Walter expects to make use of Neesham's all-round qualities.
``I thought in the second innings against CD [Central Districts], he bowled really well and took three wickets. We'll certainly be drawing on him to make an impact, specifically with the ball.''
Walter was cautious about how the pitch might play, having only been in Dunedin for a few months, but said it presented well.
``It looks a pretty good wicket with nice, decent grass covering,'' he said.
``Obviously, the rain of the last 10 days prior to the weekend was a real concern, but we've had four good days in a row now. Hopefully, it's got enough in it for a result.
The Firebirds have made just one change to the side which lined up through the first rounds of the Plunket Shield. Black Caps keeper-batsman Luke Ronchi comes into the side for Michael Pollard.
Luke Woodcock will set a record when he takes the field. Today's match will be his 121st for Wellington, breaking Evan Gray's record, and he is just nine runs off Matthew Bell's spot as Wellington's leading run-scorer.
In other matches, Plunket Shield leaders Northern Districts travel to Napier to take on the Central Stags (sixth), and Canterbury (fourth) host the Auckland Aces (second) in Rangiora.