McMillan stars in Canterbury's thrilling win
Canterbury 248 for 5 (McMillan 113*, McIntosh 74) beat Otago 247 (Gaffaney 55, Cumming 39, McMillan 2-20) by 5 wickets
Craig McMillan shone with both bat and ball as Canterbury began their campaign with a five-wicket win over Otago at Molyneux Park in Alexandra. McMillan celebrated his promotion to the captaincy by taking 2 for 20 from his seven overs before an inspirational 113 not out that steered his side to a last-over victory.
Otago started well with Craig Cumming and Chris Gaffaney putting on 87 for the first wicket. Gaffaney, a free-flowing batsman with 78 one-day appearances, has struggled to convert starts into big scores and while he achieved his ninth half-century, he wasn't able to improve on his best score of 79 when dismissed for 55.
His departure at 137 was in the middle of a top-order slump which undid much of the good work that had been done earlier. The Otago batsmen had a dreadful time with their running between the wickets, five batsmen being run out, much of it being their own fault.
Fortunately the lower-order managed to regain some of the scoring momentum and while only Brad Scott with 30 off 42 balls threatened to set the world on fire, Otago were able to make the last over in which the last run out occurred with the total on 247.
Canterbury were given a solid start of 59 by Michael Papps and Tim McIntosh. McIntosh had been in poor form in the State Championship but he scored a tidy 74 during a 123-run third wicket stand with McMillan. McMillan took centerstage after that and played the sheet-anchor role to perfection.
Things got a little tight in the run chase with 16 off the last two overs. But in the penultimate over Jeff Wilson conceded 12 and Paul Wiseman took four off the first ball of the last over to seal the win.
Northern Districts 262 for 8 (Marshall 67, Hart 67, Yovich 52, Patel 2-37) beat Wellington 252 (Nevin 90, Woodcock 71, Orchard 4-47) by 11 runs
Northern Districts were rocked at the start of their innings at the Basin Reserve when asked to bat first by Wellington, but the strong middle order halted the rot in fine style. James Marshall, the captain, and Matt Hart each scored 67 - Marshall at just under a run-a-ball while Hart played the steadier hand in his 112-minute innings.
After they had fashioned the recovery, Joseph Yovich steadied the lower order while scoring 52, his fourth one-day half-century before he was run out in the last over. Wellington's Jayesh Patel's offspin proved highly effective under the conditions as he took 2 for 37 from his 10 overs. By comparison, Mark Gillespie finished with 2 for 67.
Needing 263 to win, Wellington made a bad start when Michael Parlane and Jesse Ryder, both big hitters, were back in the pavilion with only 10 on the board. It was left to Chris Nevin to provide the impetus with a fine innings of 90 off 102. It was Luke Woodcock, the No.7 batsman, who finally provided some substance to the Wellington chase with 71 off 91 balls but he got out the ball after hitting a six as he attempted to repeat the shot only to be caught on the boundary.
Mark Orchard was the pick of the ND bowlers and he finished with 4 for 47. Ian Butler claimed 3 for 42 and justified the selectors decision to give him a match to gear up for the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Central Districts 174 for 4 (Sulzberger 66*) beat Auckland 173 (Canning 34, Adams 34, Mason 4-23) by 6 wickets
The Auckland batsmen found the Fitzherbert Park pitch at Palmerston North a little too lively when they were asked to bat first against Central Districts. It took a guarded innings of 34 by Tama Canning and a more attacking 34 by Andre Adams to overcome the home attack. Rob Nicol hit 24 to recover the situation from a poor start but Auckland were up against it, especially in the face of some fine bowling by Michael Mason.
Mason, the medium pacer, who has been on the fringe of national selection, made the most of the conditions and finished with 4 for 23 from his 9.5 overs. Glen Sulzberger's offspin also produced 2 for 35 at a time when Auckland were looking to blast their way out of trouble.
CD also struggled in the initial stages of their chase but a fine unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 89 between Sulzberger and Bevan Griggs saw them home with plenty to spare. They also managed a bonus point from the thumping win. Sulzberger scored 66 not out off 87 balls while Griggs scored 27 off 44.