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February 5, 2005
Otago 203 for 6 (Todd 54*, Eathorne 37*) beat Canterbury 202 (Papps 43, McCullum 3-22) by 4 wickets
Canterbury face a 24-hour wait before knowing whether they will have to travel to Central or Northern Districts for their State Shield semi-final on Wednesday. They lost their last preliminary round game to Otago by four wickets, a game that they needed to win with a bonus point if they were to have any chance of a home semi, in the event of ND being beaten in their last game on Sunday.
Otago had special cause for satisfaction, having called on two young players, Craig Smith and Sean Eathorne, both members of the New Zealand Under-19 team at last year's World Cup. Eathorne especially had a day to remember, sharing a vital seventh-wicket stand with Greg Todd to win the game for Otago.
Canterbury decided to bat first, a decision no doubt based on their experience of losing to Auckland on Thursday at the same venue. They had another fine start with the in-form Nathan Astle and Michael Papps, the top and second-highest scorers in the competition this year, putting on 102 for the first wicket. Astle finished with 71, the exact number of runs he needed to reach 3000 in domestic one-day cricket, becoming only the second player to achieve the feat after Llorne Howell went past the mark earlier in the summer.
Papps scored 43. However, their work was undone as the Canterbury middle-order struggled and four wickets fell for only 10 runs. Shanan Stewart (33) provided some valuable resistance that proved sufficient to take the total past 200. Nathan McCullum, the offspinner who is the sibling of New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon - whose wicket he took today - had three for 22 from his 10 overs.
Otago had a 50-run opening stand between Craig Cumming and Jordan Sheed, who took the place of the injured Chris Gaffaney. But like the Cantabrians, the top of the middle-order faltered and Otago were in trouble at 82 for 4. However, Todd again proved what a great acquisition he has been for Otago by rebuilding with the help of Aaron Redmond, as the duo added 54 for the fifth wicket.
Jeff Wilson was then dismissed for a duck and it was left to Eathorne to provide the impetus with Todd as the win was secured with two overs to spare.
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