de Boorder last-ball six gives Otago thriller
Otago clinched a thriller against Central Districts thanks to a last-ball six from Derek de Boorder, to get their HRV Cup campaign off to a winning start at the University Oval in Dunedin. Put in to bat, Central Districts were powered by Ross Taylor's knock of 95 from 49 balls. There was no other contribution of note, but Taylor smacked eight sixes - including two hat-tricks against Jimmy Neesham and Ian Butler - and three fours to carry the side to a competitive 158 for 7. Butler managed three top-order wickets, including that of Taylor's, but was very expensive: he conceded 53 in his four overs. The chase was anchored by Brendon McCullum. Coming off a Big Bash League fixture two days back - a game in which he endured a bloody blow to the face - he smashed 79 off 63 after a slow start against the impressive Doug Bracewell. The late push towards the target, however, was provided by Neesham who finished with 34 off 18. Dimitri Mascarenhas was out off the first ball of the 20th over, and Neesham got five off the next four, leaving de Boorder five to get off the final ball. It was the first delivery he faced, and he duly dispatched a short ball from Graham Napier over square leg to secure the victory.
Muttiah Muralitharan marked his return after a five-month break with a spell of 3-0-15-2, but it wasn't enough to deliver victory for Wellington against Auckland at Colin Maiden Park. Operating with the new ball, Muralitharan didn't take too long to get into the act in a game that was reduced to 12-overs-a-side due to rain. He had Bradley Cachopa dismissed in his second over, but Martin Guptill powered Auckland to a strong start. Azhar Mahmood and Colin de Grandhomme contributed sprightly cameos, while Guptill lashed 46 off 32 balls, before Muralitharan had him stumped. Guptill's effort lifted Auckland to 116 for 5. Wellington's other international stars - Jesse Ryder, James Franklin and Brendan Taylor - could not contribute much to the chase, but the opener Michael Pollard kept his side in with a chance. He made 45 off 27 balls, taking Wellington to 81 for 2 in the ninth over, but his dismissal led to a flurry of wickets that killed their challenge. Michael Bates and Andre Adams picked up two wickets each as Auckland ran out winners by 10 runs.
BJ Watling's 75 off 69 balls helped Northern Districts prevail over Canterbury by five runs at the Mainpower Oval. Canterbury invited Northern to bat, but were resisted by a solid opening stand between Watling and Brad Wilson. The pair raised 63 in 8.3 overs, after which Hamish Marshall and Scott Styris made brisk contributions to lift the score to 161 for 6. Canterbury's reply suffered from a bout of early wickets, and they were up against it at 40 for 3 after five overs. Shanan Stewart and Dean Brownlie kept fighting with 30s, but it was down to Andrew Ellis to provide a final surge at the target. He struck 42 off 24 balls to revive Canterbury from 101 for 4 in the 14th over, but they still fell short in the end.