HAMISH BIDWELL AND MATT RICHENS
Jesse Ryder scored his 11th first-class century and was unbeaten on 117 when his Wellington side were bowled out for 340 today at Napier's Nelson Park.
Wellington trailed by 43 after the first innings of their Plunket Shield cricket match with Central Districts, but had it not been for the in-form Ryder, it would have been so much worse for the team from the capital.
When Ryder walked out to the crease his side was 110-2 but had lost regular wickets, leaving Ryder to nurse the tail through to a handy score.
Not that they all needed that much help; Mark Gillespie hit five fours and a six in his brisk 38.
Ryder was his normal aggressive self, reaching three figures off 101 balls. His final tally included 13 fours.
CD have reached lunch on day three at 34-1 and lead by 77 with five sessions to play.
Stuck on 99, Ryder brought up his hundred with a boundary off the bowling of Central Districts leg-spinner Tarun Nethula.
This is the blockbusting left-hander's first match for Wellington since February this year, when he made 74 and 82 in a Plunket Shield four-day match against Canterbury.
Ryder was coming back from injury at that point and his 50 and 63-ball innings' against Canterbury, at Rangiora, promptly saw him selected in New Zealand's limited overs' team. His return was short-lived, however, when he was banished by the Black Caps for breaking the team's alcohol protocol.
Ryder went for a drink while nursing a small cut on his hand. Team rules prohibit players from drinking while nursing an injury of any kind and Ryder returned to Wellington.
But rather than return to the Firebirds' ranks, Ryder instead decided to take an indefinite break from the game. He did go on to play for his Indian Premier League franchise, Pune, but otherwise had no involvement with cricket and his most notable sporting exploit was in the charity boxing ring.
New Zealand Cricket did not renew his contract for this year and Ryder was instead included on Wellington's list. After a strong pre-season in which he hit hundreds in an intra-squad match, and then in a practice game against Northern Districts, Ryder came into this game in Napier in superb touch.
In the other match, Otago have made a comfortable start in their chase of 267 against Canterbury in Rangiora.
With Aaron Redmond (26no) and Michael Bracewell (10no)at the crease, Otago reached lunch at 65-1 - 202 shy of their target.
Otago led by 86 after the first innings, but a 108 run ninth wicket partnership by Canterbury's Todd Astle (78) and Ben McCord (47) helped the home side reach 352 in their second innings and a lead of 266.
Neil Wagner only bowled 10.3 overs in Canterbury's second innings after missing most of day three after being hit in the face by a stray cricket ball in yesterday's warm up.
The feisty left armer still took 3-30 but Otago's best was hard working offspinner Mark Craig.
Playing in just his sixth first-class match, Craig bowled a mammoth 45.3 overs and his last wicket, that of Astle, left him with career best figures of 5-120.