Canterbury go on top with big win
Canterbury grabbed 19 points and shot to the top of the table with a comprehensive nine-wicket win against Wellington at the Basin Reserve. Canterbury's win was led by Andrew Ellis' career-best 171 in the first innings which followed a five-for from legspinner Todd Astle.
Wellington got a steady start, after they were put in to bat, with fifties from D Joon (55) and Stephen Murdoch (66) before Astle (5 for 46) troubled their middle order and tail, which restricted them to 263. Canterbury were struggling in reply at 71 for 5, rocked by pacer Brent Arnel before Ellis rescued them with a brisk hundred. He combined with Astle (43) for a stand of 79 in 17 overs and then put on a massive 178 with FG Anderson (54) for the seventh wicket to take them past 300, and eventually to 356. Arnel finished with 5 for 95, his 10th five-for in first-class matches.
Canterbury did well again to restrict Wellington to under 300, despite fifties from Murdoch (71) and James Franklin (52). Wellington's score of 264 meant Canterbury were chasing 172, which they achieved for the loss of one wicket. The chase was led by an opening stand of 108 between Ronnie Hira (71) and Greg Dawson (50*) and helped later on by a quick and unbeaten 43 off 44 from Neil Broom.
Northern Districts held Auckland to a draw at the Colin Maiden Park. Northern Districts survived the draw with only one wicket in hand in their chase of 354, leaving the teams tied on 43 points, one behind Canterbury who top the table. Northern Districts, however, have a superior run rate of 7.072.
Asked to bat, Auckland got off to a bright start with Jeet Raval and Anaru Kitchen adding a 56-run opening stand after rain delayed the start of play. James Baker, though, struck before lunch to dismiss Kitchen for a swift 41.
The hosts then suffered a middle-order wobble, but wicketkeeper Brad Cachopa added 118 for the sixth wicket with Robert O'Donnell and 67 for the eighth with captain Michael Bates to lift the team to 356. Brad went on to record his maiden first-class century (104), before he became Baker's fifth victim. Baker returned career-best figures of 6 for 75.
Northern Districts were rocked early in their reply, courtesy seamers Dean Bartlett and Donovan Grobbelaar. Coming in at 42 for 3, Anton Devcich allied with Joe Carter to put on 49, before BJ Watling and Mitchell Santner scored in the thirties each to extend Northern Districts' resistance. Bartlett finished with 4 for 39 while Grobbelaar ended with 3 for 33 to knock over Northern Districts for 212 and secure a lead of 144.
Auckland lost wickets at regular intervals in the second innings, but opener Jeet Raval grafted 78 off 177 balls to help the hosts set a target of 354 after Auckland declared on 209 for 8 with Baker stretching his match haul to 10, with 4 for 53.
Northern Districts batsmen gave a better account of themselves, batting out 97 overs , while scoring 316 for 9. Four of the top six batsmen scored fifties to lay a solid platform, but they slipped from 301 for 4 to 316 for 9, after which the last-wicket pair of Graeme Aldridge and Baker survived nine balls.
Heavy rain allowed only a little more than one full day's play possible in a drawn match between Otago and Central Districts at the Queen's Park ground in Invercargill.
Since the first and fourth days were washed out, play started only on the second day, after Otago chose to bowl, which saw only 3.3 overs and six runs scored by the Central Districts openers.
One the third day weather eased out allowing a full day's play. Central Districts batted for nearly 75.2 overs in all and scored 289, riding mainly on Doug Bracewell's 105 off 98 balls in which he smashed 16 fours and one six. Bracewell's 77-run fifth-wicket stand with Tom Bruce (54) was their highest partnership. Left-arm pacer Neil Wagner finished with 5 for 92, and each of their five other bowlers picked up one wicket.
Otago batted for three overs, posting 13 runs, on the third day and that's all they would bat in the match because of heavy rain on the last day. Otago picked up four points for taking nine wickets before 110 overs and Central Districts got only one for scoring between 250 and 300.