State Championship 2003-04 December 19, 2003

Auckland leave it late, but get first innings points

Close Auckland 226 (Hitchcock 51) trail Wellington 201 and 85 for 3 by 60 runs

Auckland, winners of the State Championship for the last two years, found their lower order scripting a rescue act at the Eden Park Outer Oval today. They wriggled out of a perilous position (97 for 7) to reach a respectable 226. Initially, the recovery was led by Craig Pryor, who scored a patient 138-minute 29. Then Paul Hitchcock, who had the distinction of playing one-day internationals before making his first-class debut, scored a maiden half-century in only his second first-class match. His 51 was scored off 75 balls in 123 minutes. Brooke Walker, the Auckland captain, notched up 46 and the last batsman, Kerry Walmsley, hit 13 to take Auckland 25 runs ahead. Andrew Penn (3 for 75) and Mark Gillespie(3 for 45), the medium-pacers, led the Wellington bowling effort. Wellington reached 85 for 3 by stumps with Luke Woodcock (28*) and Neal Parlane (16*) at the crease. Hitchcock continued his heroics with a fine 2 for 28.

Close Otago 137-3 (Wasim 60) lead Northern Districts 121 (McSkimming 5-56) by 16 runs

Northern Districts struggled as Otago seized the initiative on the second day at Carisbrook. With the benefit of some lower-order application from Joseph Yovich (39) and Graeme Aldridge (20), ND reached 121. Warren McSkimming finished with 5 for 56 and Brad Scott's parsimonous effort, in which he conceded only 22 runs from 19.4 overs and took three wickets, ensured ND had no easy pickings. Otago capitalised on this chance to secure the first-innings lead, thanks mainly to an opening stand of 107 between the former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Wasim (60) and Craig Cumming (46). Otago's hopes of building a substantial lead tomorrow will revolve around Robbie Lawson, who remained unbeaten on 24.

Close Central Districts 196 and 182-3 (How 53, Sinclair 46*) lead Canterbury 190 (Sulzberger 6-54) by 188 runs

Glen Sulzberger, the Central Districts captain and offspinner, spun his web as his team gained the vital first-innings lead at Palmerston North. He took 6 for 54 in 16.4 overs, career-best figures, as Canterbury lost their last five wickets for 11 runs, and finished marginally short of going ahead. The CD batsmen made amends when they batted in the second innings, as Jamie How (53) and Mathew Sinclair, who top-scored in the first innings, built another solid partnership. Paul Wiseman took two of the three wickets to fall, and the outcome of the match may lie in the hands of the spinners.