ND best placed to take win at Bay Oval

Neil Wagner picked up four Otago wickets today

Northern Districts will need a further 152 runs with nine wickets in hand to win their opening Plunket Shield match of the season over Otago when play resumes tomorrow at the Bay Oval.

Bad light and then rain stopped play late this afternoon when they had reached 51/1, chasing 204 for victory after dismissing Otago in their second innings for 231.

That total was built on the 115 contributed by former Blackcaps opener Hamish Rutherford, the first century of the summer, which will be even more pleasing for him as he scored it against ND's international star-studded bowling attack of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ish Sodhi and Colin de Grandhomme.

Resuming the day at 88/1, with an overall lead of 60 after conceding a 28 run advantage to ND on the first innings, Otago looked in good shape to set Northern a considerably higher total to chase. But once again the wickets started falling in rapid succession, as they had when both teams were rolled in their first innings on the opening day Wednesday.

In fact the first of those wickets fell before another run had been added, when Neil Wagner had Shawn Hicks caught by James Baker. It was the second of four of his former teammates' wickets Wagner took in the innings, which won't have put a smile on their faces.

Yet again an early wicket fell in ND's pursuit of 204 to kick off their season with a win, as captain Daniel Flynn edged paceman Jacob Duffy to third slip with his own and the team total at four. But then Kane Williamson joined Henry Cooper and the pair set to work putting Northern in the box seat with an unbeaten partnership of 84.

Williamson will resume on 28 and Cooper on 14.

The key question is when that will be, as the forecast doesn't look promising for a start on time tomorrow. It is expected to improve in the afternoon, but if not enough play is possible the game will be decided on Saturday when the prospects are considerably brighter.



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