Central Districts come from behind and win
Central Districts overcame a first-innings deficit and chased a formidable target to complete a six-wicket victory against Auckland in Napier. Pursuing a target of 340, the highest total of the match, Jamie How made 69, Carl Cachopa 108 and Kieran Noema-Barnett an unbeaten 75 to lead Central Districts home on the final day. Central Districts took 16 points out of the game, while Auckland earned four. It was a result that seemed unlikely after the first three days of the contest at McLean Park.
The match began with Central Districts asking Auckland to bat and reducing them to 95 for 7. Gareth Hopkins, however, rescued his team's first innings, scoring 130 at No. 6, and he had support from Mitchell McClenaghan, who made 34 off 101 balls. They helped prop Auckland up to 234. Kyle Jarvis, Noema-Barnett and Roald Badenhorst took three wickets apiece for Central Districts.
Central Districts lost opener Ben Smith for a duck in their reply and most of the second day was lost to rain. They resumed on 23 for 1 on the third morning and progressed to 76 before the slide began. Left-arm spinner Bruce Martin cut through the line-up in 15.4 overs, taking 6 for 38. Central Districts were dismissed for 143 - Matthew Sinclair top scoring with 62 - and conceded a first-innings lead of 91.
Auckland did not bat their opponents out of the match in their second innings but their total of 248 for 9 declared, giving them a lead of 339, made them favourites. Auckland had slumped to 89 for 5 before the middle and lower order rallied. Colin Munro top-scored with 54 for Auckland, and Jarvis took 5 for 80 for Central Districts to finish with 8 for 121 in the match. Central Districts' batsmen had less than a day to chase a stiff target, and they managed to do so with not much damage.
The match between Northern Districts and Otago was drawn after a thrilling finish at Seddon Park, where Otago ended four runs short of their target of 312. Otago's chase on the final day was powered by Hamish Rutherford, who scored 118 off 120 balls, while Craig Cumming and Michael Bracewell made half-centuries. They needed 21 in the final three overs of the match, and then 15 in the last, but could score only 11 off Graeme Aldridge.
The game had a close finish despite losing the second day to rain. Only 44 overs were possible on the opening day as well, during which Northern Districts progressed to 143 for 4. When they resumed on the third morning, Joseph Yovich went on to make 89 and Daniel Flynn scored 113 off only 117 deliveries, allowing Northern Districts to declare on 300 for 6.
Otago scored quickly in their first innings, racking up 228 for 3 in 50 overs before declaring in the deficit. Rutherford made 107 off 96 balls - he went on to score a second century in the match - and Neil Broom made 72 off 88 balls. In order to accelerate the game towards a result, Otago gave Northern Districts a first-innings lead of 72.
Northern Districts failed to build substantially on that advantage, though. They were dismissed for 239 in their second innings on the fourth day, with Anton Devcich making 93. Neil Wagner and James McMillan took three wickets each for Otago.
A target of 312 was always going to be difficult on the final day, but Otago chased bravely and fell agonisingly short with five wickets in hand.
There was another rain-hit draw atat Basin Reserve, where Wellington held on by three wickets in their second innings to save the game against Canterbury.
Canterbury made 283 for 5 on the opening day after they were asked to bat. It was a solid performance, without any outstanding individual contributions. They second day was washed out. Henry Nicholls went on to make 82 when play resumed on the third day, and Canterbury were dismissed for 337.
Wellington declared on 188 for 1 in their first innings, Stephen Murdoch making 101 and Michael Papps 72. Building on a first-innings lead of 149, Canterbury scored 192 for 1 in 39 overs and then declared. George Worker contributed 74 and Peter Fulton 86, setting Wellington a target of 342.
There was little chance of Wellington chasing the target, and they were in serious danger of defeat after collapsing to 29 for 5. Harry Boam then scored an unbeaten 81 and steading the innings with Craig Cachopa, who made 58. Wellington were 217 for 7 when the game ended in a draw.
Edited by George Binoy