The Otago Volts put their heads down to grind out a Plunket Shield draw with the Northern Knights in Dunedin today.
Having lost large chunks of the four-day match to rain there was never any real prospect of a result being forced at University Oval, particularly after the Knights had occupied 132 overs to rack up 482 for five declared in their only innings.
The visitors pursued first innings points on the last day but were thwarted by more rain, with the Volts reaching 210 for seven after resuming this morning on 40 for two.
Sam Wells contributed a fine 61 in 165 minutes but his dismissal when run out by debutant Mitchell Santner left the Volts very vulnerable at 133 for five.
What followed was a dogged and determined stand between wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder and Craig Cumming, who also had to contend with the pain and inconvenience of a back injury which forced him to drop to No 7 in the order.
During the course of an innings of 30 in 139 minutes before being bowled by Brent Arnel, Cumming overtook the late great Bert Sutcliffe as Otago’s leading runs scorer. His career tally for the province now stands at 6054 runs.
Seamer Graeme Aldridge accounted for de Boorder for 48 made over 168 minutes of attention to detail and ended with the fine figures of three for 33 off 19 overs.
Day 3: Watling digs in for Knights
BJ Watling will wing his way to Australia shortly with a smile on his face and a spring in his step after ticking all the right boxes in the Northern Knights’ Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts.
He is due to join the Black Caps squad ahead of the first test in Brisbane next week with the form book in his favour after scoring 150 in the Knights’ imposing first innings of 482 for five declared at Dunedin’s University Oval today.
By stumps on the third and penultimate day the Volts had responded by reaching 40 for two, with experienced seamer Graeme Aldridge accounting for Aaron Redmond and Neil Broom cheaply.
Watling will be thankful the skies cleared to allow a full day’s play today after the opening 1-1/2 days were lost to rain.
He took guard this morning on 67, with James Marshall 31 and the Knights a healthy 159 for one after successfully blunting the Volts attack in 46 overs yesterday.
These two carried on from where they left off, extending the second wicket partnership to 117 runs before Marshall departed for 63, the victim of a smart stumping by Derek de Boorder off the bowling of offspinner Nathan McCullum.
But 26-year-old Watling pressed ahead, reaching his seventh first-class century off 193 balls in 283 minutes as he established another significant partnership with Joseph Yovich which netted 135 runs.
In doing this Watling proved his appetite for run gathering and maintained his concentration levels as he reached 150 for the second time in his career.
By the time he perished, caught by McCullum off Sam Wells, he had hit just 14 fours off 299 balls in a stay lasting a confidence-boosting 424 minutes.
Yovich did not stick around for long after Watling’s dismissal, joining him in the pavilion when bowled by Wells for an impressive 69 scored in three hours.
Wicketkeeper Peter McGlashan then became the fifth Knight to pass 50 as he worked the ball into the gaps to be 69 not out when the declaration came.
The Knights kept the Volts in the field for 132 overs as they again prospered, a week after scoring 608 for nine declared against the Wellington Firebirds.
Wells was the most successful bowler, claiming two for 34 while McCullum got through 27.4 overs and seamer Neil Wagner went wicketless through 25 overs.
Day 2: Runs at last in Dunedin
Mother Nature almost pulled of a forgettable hat-trick as all three Plunket Shield fell victim to rain today.
Rain meant that not a ball was bowled at two of the three venues on the scheduled second day of third round matches, at Rangiora and Lincoln.
And there was limited action in Dunedin where the Otago Volts’ match against the competition leading Northern Knights finally started more than 1-1/2 days late.
The Knights chose to bat upon winning the long delayed toss at University Oval and found it a profitable decision as they progressed to 159 for one by the close.
The 46 overs squeezed in were more than seemed likely when the teams were forced back to the pavilion, sheltering from yet another shower, just seven balls into the innings.
Thankfully, this break was a brief one before the visitors resumed with Brad Wilson and BJ Watling at the crease and confronted by the quality new ball attack of Steven Finn and Neil Wagner.
While captain Wilson clipped three quick boundaries to get underway Black Caps test squad member Watling took 21 balls to get off the mark.
But they both received a fair share of loose balls which could be dispatched to the boundary and were largely untroubled in reaching 96 at four runs an over before Wilson offered a false stroke to seamer Ian Butler to depart for 52, containing nine fours off 85 deliveries.
Watling also chalked up a half-century, scoring an unbeaten 67 with James Marshall at the other end on 31 when the game resumes, hopefully, on time tomorrow morning.
At Rangiora, Canterbury are due to restart tomorrow on 27 for one in their first innings and wanting to make serious inroads into the 307 scored by the Central Stags, who were buoyed by a spirited 131 from their captain Kruger van Wyk.
And at Lincoln, the Auckland Aces are 284 for seven in their first innings, a total heavily dependent on opener Tim McIntosh’s 104, with Colin de Grandhomme set to resume on 43 alongside Andre Adams on 27.
Day 1: Rain sees no play in Dunedin
The Otago Volts and Northern Knights were held hostage by inclement weather today.
Rain meant no play was possible on the scheduled opening day of their third round Plunket Shield match at Dunedin’s University Oval.
Both sides will hope the elements have no further impact on the match. The Knights led the points table after two rounds with 24 points, with Otago sharing third place alongside the Central Stags on 20.