Kuggeleijn four upturns Canterbury
Northern Districts defended 241 against Canterbury to move to the top of the points table. The two teams had begun the match tied on 18 points, and Canterbury looked set to move ahead when they were 208 for 4 with about eight overs to go in the chase. However, the run-out of Henry Nicholls for 45 sparked a collapse, with medium pacers Scott Kuggeleijn and Graeme Aldridge proceeding to bowl them out for 226 in the 49th, ensuring Dean Brownlie's competent 84 went in vain.
Canterbury had suffered a blow when Rob Nicol had left the field earlier, hurt, without opening his account. It was Nicol who had dented Northern Districts in their innings with his part-timers, picking up three middle-order wickets in quick succession to stem the flow of runs at the death and keep Canterbury's target to a manageable 242. But it proved to be out of their reach in the end.
Auckland coined together an efficient bowling performance after Donovan Grobbelaar's half-century afforded them enough cushion to beat Otago by 73 runs. A profitable opening partnership helped allay nerves after Auckland were asked to bat, but after the 62 runs added by Tim McKintosh and Anaru Kitchen, the stutter began. Three wickets for 12 runs, two of which were via run-outs, stole the momentum. Grobbelaar (51) was struggling for partners until No.8 Michael Bates (30) showed fortitude during a partnership of 76 runs in 87 balls. Neil Wagner accounted for both of them in the 47th over as Auckland finished at 238.
The chase shouldn't have bothered a batting line-up with Hamish Rutherford, Jesse Ryder and Ryan ten Doeschate, but none of them could convert their starts. Seamer Tipene Friday took 3 for 49, his best List A figures, and instigated a wobble as Otago lost three wickets in four overs. Ryder was sixth man out and the equation turned into a difficult 135 off 148. Bates also took three wickets and Grobbelaar chipped in with two as well, as the tail could not muster even half the necessary runs.
Wellington's top order was enough to overhaul Central Districts' modest total as half-centuries from Michael Papps and Tom Blundell set up a seven-wicket victory with 10 overs to spare. Kruger van Wyk (70) and captain Kieran Noema-Barnett (52) were the only, and much needed, sources of stability for Central Districts recovered from 91 for 5. Both batsmen fell in quick succession though and Wellington were given a simple target of 201. Seamer Brent Arnel was the most successful bowler on the day, with 4 for 26. There was hardly any trouble in the chase with the second- and third-wicket partnerships yielding 87 and 93 runs respectively. James Franklin sealed it by smashing 18 off five balls, including two sixes.