New Zealand State Championship December 3, 2003

Auckland take early lead

Auckland 141 and 110 for 1 (Vincent 70*, Richardson 20) beat Northern Districts 130 and 120 (Horsley 27, Robinson 33, Adams 4-41, Mills 3-36, Barnes 2-31) by 9 wickets

Lou Vincent powered Auckland to a comfortable nine-wicket victory, completed during the first session of the third day of the State Championship match with Northern Districts. Needing only 110 for victory, Vincent lost Mark Richardson, his fellow international, when he had scored 20. Richardson was out to Ian Butler. However, showing some of the most aggressive batting of the match, Vincent finished on 70 not out, with Tim McIntosh unbeaten on seven.

Auckland, the defending State champions, thus took an early lead in the competition with maximum points from the match. Wellington also claimed an outright win, but did not have a first-innings lead in their game with Central Districts.

Wellington 105 and 230 for 2 (Bell 112, Donaldson 96) beat Central Districts 139 and 195 (Taylor 64, Sulzberger 37, Griggs 28, Penn 4-55, O'Brien 3-51, Gillespie 3-34) by 8 wickets

A delayed start due to overnight rain at the Basin Reserve did not affect Wellington's application in their goal of reaching the 230 required for victory. Matthew Bell and Grant Donaldson put together an outstanding partnership of 211 for the first wicket. Donaldson's dismissal was a tragic one: he was out four short of what would have been a deserved maiden first-class century in his 40th first-class match. His previous highest score had been 89. He edged a ball into the slips cordon where Craig Spearman took a fine catch.

Bell, however, reached triple figures for the 12th occasion in his career and was unbeaten at the end. Mark Greatbatch, the Central Districts coach, commented that the bounce of the pitch had been too inconsistent for the first day and a half, and the ball had moved 6 to 9 inches at times during that phase.

The fact the pitch was settling down was apparent on the second afternoon when Ross Taylor and Glen Sulzberger had their 100-run stand, and Bell and Donaldson were able to capitalise on that.

Canterbury 375 lead Otago 185 for 7 (Lawson 59, Gaffaney 36, Hopkins 23, Wiseman 4-69) by 190 runs

Play didn't start until the final session in Timaru where Otago were immediately into action trying to reach the follow-on requirement of 225 runs. They lost Robert Lawson for 59 but the lower order battled the side through and ensured that at least one of the games in the round will go into the fourth day. Otago are still 41 runs from avoiding the follow-on, with Jeff Wilson the next batsman in tomorrow morning.

The game still offers the chance of a result, especially if Canterbury can score quick runs when batting a second time, no matter whether Otago achieve the follow-on or not. The prospect of scoring 230 to 250 with 60-odd overs to play could provide an interesting outcome.