19th Match: Auckland v Otago at Auckland, 25-28 Feb 2002
Don Cameron

Otago 1st innings: first drinks, lunch, second drinks, tea, innings end,
Auckland 1st innings: stumps, day 1,
Pre-game: toss,

The formidable Auckland opening batting partnership of Richardson and Horne, which brought in 191 runs in the first innings against Northern Districts last week, was broken before the Auckland innings started. Horne suffered a bruised foot when batting and McIntosh was promoted to partner Richardson.

The Auckland coach Tony Sail did not believe the damage was serious, and rest and treatment overnight should have Horne fit to bat tomorrow.

McIntosh actually was the sleeping partner, for Richardson scored the first 21 runs, including two fours, before McIntosh scored a single from the 51st ball of the innings.

McIntosh later chipped in with a crisp four backward of point, but Richardson played the strokes of real quality.

The three Otago seamers, Sewell, McMillan and Pryor, got some lift and quickish bounce when the ball was new, but there were plenty of signs that the pitch had lost any sting through the drying effects of sun and wind today.

The spinners will need to be tidy, too, for when Morland started the Otago slow bowling with his off-spinners he dropped his first ball marginally short and Richardson promptly hit his seventh four to mid-wicket. By the time Auckland went past 50 Richardson was 43, including eight fours in 18.2 overs. McIntosh still there on 10, and by stumps Auckland were 56 for none with Richardson still on 43 not out.

Auckland struck again soon after tea when Morland missed what was virtually a straight full-toss from Walker and was obviously lbw, Otago 202 for seven wickets.

Croy and Smith played some handsome strokes from the spinners, and Croy hit four fours. He looked like getting his fifth when Nicol dropped short and Croy pulled lustily to leg, only to see Howell pull down a very good catch at a fairly close square leg.

Otago's 232 for eight soon became 236 for nine when Walker dismissed Smith leg-before, and five runs later Walker gained his third lbw decision from umpire Frost when McMillan was out with the total 2412 from 81.7 overs.

Walker finished with the best figures, three for 40 from 13.3 overs and Otago might be interested, with Smith and Morland in their side, that the Auckland spinners managed four victims between them.

With the part-time off-spinner Nicol joining Walker in the spin attack, Cumming and Pryor decided to increase the pressure. Two overs brought four well-hit fours as the total raced past 150 and Cumming approached his fifth first class century. He had also passed the 3000-run mark in first class cricket.

It was a measure of the improved Otago scoring rate that the score moved from 100 to 150 in 53 minutes from 84 balls. Pryor came out of Cumming's shadow with a lofted four from Walker which brought their partnership to 90.

Cumming cruised to 99 by pulling Nicol to the mid-wicket fence`for his 177th four, and followed with a three for his outstanding century -- 102 from the total of 178 for four wickets. Cumming's 100 came from 157 balls in 216 minutes, his second 50 in 96 minutes from 74 balls.

Auckland switched back to medium-fast bowling, but Cumming was undeterred and clipped Canning for a four in his first over. Soon afterward the Cumming-Pryor stand went past 100 in two hours from 196 balls.

Just when it seemed as if Cumming and Pryor were producing am armour-plated partnership Pryor lifted a drive at a widish ball from Canning and at cover Howell dived across for a splendid two-handed catch.

Pryor's 39 came from 105 balls, with seven fours and in 127 minutes, the time of the 106-run stand.

Cumming went pleasantly along to 111, the England players' dreaded number, and it did Cumming no favours, either. Cumming went half-forward to a bball from Canning, was taken on the pad and umpire Foster agreed with Canning's loud appeal.

Cumming slumped, perhaps thinking he might have been far enough forward to avoid the lbw risk, but he had to go after his valiant captain's innings of 111 from 180 balls in just over four hours.

Tea came soon afterward, Otago 201 for six wickets after 70 overs, and the game was very much back in the balance.

The Otago batting rate slipped down a gear or two after lunch. Cumming did eventually get the single for his 50 ( 81 balls, 122 minutes, nine fours), but Pryor, who had started with a boundary before lunch, went runless for 20 minutes until he moved from four to five.

The Otago century came in 170 minutes from 239 balls, meaning the first 50 came in 81 minutes and l09 balls, the second in 89 balls and 130 minutes.

The hour after lunch brought 40 runs from 16 overs as Auckland moved into the leg-spin of Walker in an effort to break the deadlock. Cumming did cause the heartbeat to increase when he drove Barnes to the long on boundary, and then flicked the next ball to long leg for another boundary, the 13th in his 75 not out.

By the drinks break the Cumming-Pryor stand was worth 48 runs as Otago reached 129 for four wickets.

Beare and Cumming almost seemed in cruise mode as the sun broke through the clouds and the Otago score moved steadily into the 60's.

But then Beare fell to Shaw's three-wicket trick. This is the 19-year-old Shaw's third game for Auckland this summer, and when he bowled Beare he completed an unusual hat-trick -- all three wickets he has taken came when he seamed the ball in and the batsmen were out shouldering arms.

So as Beare lost his off stump Otago stuttered a little at 65 for two wickets, Beare using 71 balls for his 22 runs.

Shaw then broke his own system by bowling Gaffaney in his next over, for Gaffaney tried to drive, missed and was bowled -- and Otago dropped to 73 for three wickets

Cumming watched the damage at the other end, and was still poised enough to clip Drum for four to point when the Auckland danger-man returned for his second spell.

However, Drum had the last word with the last ball of this over when he tempted Hore into a hook-shot which flew high and straight to Shaw at deep fine leg -- Otago 81 for four, losing three wickets for 16 runs.

Pryor made an enterprising start as he cut as ball from the medium-pacer Barnes for four backward of point and Cumming was one run short of the half-century he so richly deserved when Otago went to lunch at 90 for four wickets.

The pitch was of amiable pace and bounce, but Lawson and Beare were very cautious. Bear was especially careful as his last three innings had produced ducks, and he breathed a gasp of relief when he found a single, and then an outrageous snick for four through gully from Shaw's bowling.

Lawson, the senior partner, was first to go. Chris Drum, mustering good pace and a tight length, brought one back sharply into Lawson, getting through the gate and knocking out the middle stump -- Otago six for one after 4.4 overs.

Beare looked much better with a handsome four through the covers off Shaw and not long afterward the youngster was rested, five overs for 15. Cumming moved rather more aggressively ahead, taking a four through extra cover, and then punching a ball from Drum to the point boundary, and then straight-driving Drum for another four. These confident strokes gave the Otago innings some momentum as it reached 37 for one from the first 13 overs -- Cumming 23 not out from 18 balls.

Canning replaced Shaw, and was typically economical. Drum completed his seventh over with one wicket for 21 runs as drinks arrived at 41 for one wicket, Cumming poised for further damage on 25 not out.

The forecaster promised seamless sunshine, but Auckland still managed to throw clouds over the start of the Auckland-Otago State championship match at Auckland's secondary ground, Colin Maiden Park, this morning.

However, the local experts maintain the clouds will not be a worry and that there should not be any serious disruption to play.

The Otago skipper Craig Cumming had the first smile of the game when he won the toss and took first batting use of a good-looking pitch -- Colin Maiden has the reputation of providing perhaps the truest pitches in Auckland.

Otago will go into the game without the North Otago seam bowler Neil Rushton, who is 12th man. Auckland have made several changes -- omitting Richard Morgan, Sanjeeva Silva and Nick Horsley from the side which could not turn a first innings lead into an outright win over Northern Districts last week.

Tama Canning and Gareth Shaw are back, stiffening the medium-fast attack, and Sam Whiteman has been made 12th man.

The umpires are Doug Cowie and Barry Frost.

© CricInfo

Date-stamped : 26 Feb2002 - 14:23