Auckland nab one-run win over Otago
Auckland's bowlers pulled off a fine squeeze to defend a total of 156 and beat Otago by one run. Seamer Matthew Quinn and legspinner Tarun Nethula were vital to wresting back lost momentum before their specialist at the death Michael Bates defended 14 off the final over.
The turnaround left table-toppers Otago stunned, especially after they made a rapid start to the chase. Anaru Kitchen smoked 42 of his 45 runs in boundaries - five sixes and thee fours - in only 22 balls. By the time he was dismissed, the score was 64 for 2 in the eighth over and the equation was 92 to win off 74 balls. Most batting sides would fancy that with eight wickets in hand. But on came Nethula with a miserly spell of 4-0-21-1. Otago barely managed a run-a-ball between overs 7.4 and 14.4 and Quinn capitalised on that pressure to dismiss Nathan McCullum for 17.
Auckland began to believe as the required rate tipped past nine. Derek de Boorder kept up with it striking 24 off 16 balls, with a four and two sixes, but Quinn got rid of him off the penultimate ball of the 19th over to keep Auckland in the fight. Then the reins were given to Bates, who had bowled his team to a Super Over victory last Wednesday, and reprised that form. He had 14 runs to defend and his first five deliveries were so spot on that even a six off the final ball from Sam Wells ended up in vain.
Although the bowlers came off collectively, Auckland's batting was led by one short burst of adrenaline courtesy Colin Munro. Prior to his arrival they were 32 for 2 in 4.1 overs. Munro came in and just like Kitchen would do later in the day, carved 42 of his 45 runs in boundaries - five sixes and three fours. But Otago broke through with McCullum's offspin and Auckland were back reeling on 89 for 5 in the nine overs. Robert O'Donnell did his best with 33 off 31 balls to help his side last the full 20 overs and that little advantage may well have proven a big one.
Choosing to bat, Wellington's innings was driven by Stephen Murdoch's unbeaten 92 off 59 balls, with five fours and six sixes. However, they could only manage 152 for 5 since none of the other batsmen lasted more than 20 deliveries or scored more than 20. Northern Districts used six bowlers and five of them picked up a wicket each.
Devcich and captain, Daniel Flynn kickstarted Northern Districts' chase with a 53-run opening stand in the six overs. Devcich then anchored the innings, building 39-run stands with Kevin O'Brien and Dean Brownlie, before falling to Alecz Day in the 17th over. By then his team needed only 22 runs of as many deliveries. Northern Districts reached the target with two overs to spare, strengthening their position at the second position in the points table, two points behind Otago.