New Zealand State Championship February 16, 2004

Bowlers dominate in stormy conditions

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Close of 3rd day Auckland 198 and 126 (Canning 66; McSkimming 5-56) lead Otago 154 (Cumming 39; Barnes 5-24) by 170 runs

Aaron Barnes set the panic in motion at the University Oval in Dunedin after Tama Canning had dismissed the overnight batsmen Craig Cumming (39) and Chris Gaffaney (6) at which point Otago were 90 for 3. But then Barnes, who in 66 previous first-class matches had never taken more than 4 for 60 in an innings, swept through the middle and lower-order in 11.1 overs to take 5 for 24 as Otago could score only 154, 44 short of Auckland on the first innings.

Not to be outdone, Warren McSkimming picked up the cudgels after Brad Scott and Jeff Wilson undid Auckland's top-order to have them 33 for 5, before Tama Canning hit out for a rapid 66 scored off 52 balls. McSkimming repeated Barnes' feat and blasted through the middle and lower-order to take 5 for 56 in 10.4 overs. Auckland were all out for 126, and Otago could be excused for pinching themselves when they found that victory lay only 171 runs away.

However, their chance of getting there had to wait as bad light interrupted play causing an early end to the day.

Close of 3rd day Canterbury 303 and 3 for 2 lead Central Districts 178 (Taylor 66, Sinclair 54; Wisneski 5-35) by 128 runs

With Mathew Sinclair on 54 and Ross Taylor having scored 66 off 67 balls, and the total on 160 for 3, Central Districts could have been excused for thinking first innings points beckoned against Canterbury.

But then the tea break interrupted, and whatever was in the water either caused severe problems for the CD batsmen or enlivened Wisneski considerably, because before another 18 runs had been scored, the CD innings was over.

Wisneski had 5 for 35, and Canterbury were in front by 125 runs. However, all was not lost for CD. By the time Canterbury had scored three runs, they had lost two of the most prolific batsmen of the summer, Shanan Stewart and Peter Fulton.

Like the New Zealand weather, the batsmen on the final day of the games will be looking for settled fortunes.

Wellington, which bore the brunt of the storms, had no play for the second successive day in their game against Northern Districts. Prospects are not bright for the final day.